Animal rights in China: A small voice calling

Human rights, or the lack of them, have long been a focus of China’s critics at home and abroad. But a new rights movement—complete with idealistic local and foreign campaigners—is stirring: animal rights.

Animals are treated dreadfully in Chinese farms, laboratories, zoos and elsewhere. There are grim factories where thousands of live bears in tiny cages are tapped for medicinal bile. At safari parks, live sheep and poultry are fed to lions as spectators cheer. At farms and in slaughterhouses, animals are killed with little concern for their suffering.

According to Zhou Ping, of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, few Chinese accept that animals have any rights at all. She thinks it is time they did, and in 2006 put forward China’s first national animal-welfare law. Her proposal got nowhere, and there is no sign of progress since. “There is so far”, she says, “only a small voice calling for change…”

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