Animal Welfare Legislation (Autoehnography research: Animal Welfare in Asia)

After researching The Cove and the Chinese fur trade I was left feeling emotionally distraught and failed to understand why these animal plights were not illegal. State Secrets Protection Law may indicate why the Japanese people were obvious to the dolphin slaughter but what about China?

I was extremely fascinated to learn that in 2009, which is a major Chinese search engine, polled Chinese citizens and 80% (Whitfort 2012 p.349) were in favour of introducing legislation to protect animals within their nation. A shocking statistic, because I could not understand why these slaughters were still widely occurring with a large percentage of the population supporting legislation against it? This is when I discovered that legislation is a large issue.

China does not have an animal protection law though legislation has been proposed and consistently changing. In 2009 China’s first animal protection law was drafted (Whitfort 2012 p. 347) proposing the protection of wild, farm, pet, laboratory and entertainment animals. Under the definition of cruelty being defined as;

deliberate use of brutal means and/or methods to cause unnecessary suffering/harm to the animal or the brutal means/or methods to kill it’

(Whitfort 2012 p.351). Currently the only legislation in place is the Protection of Wildlife 1988 which only protects endangered species or those that are vulnerable to economic or scientific research.  Thus resulting in the barbaric fur trade and other trades such as the bear bile trade within China.

Setting my bias aside, Whitford (2012 p.353) stated a fact that brought me to a realisation. Through the discussion of zoo’s which are non-government agencies they rely on money from ticket sales and Whitford (2012 9p.353) discovered that if zoos cease animal performances that visitor numbers drop and that if 10 000 tickets are sold half of that revenue is used to feed   a single lion. Place this in perspective it is clear that these zoos would ignore a ban on animal performances if legislation was to occur due to a lack of funding.

Though through my horror I have had an epiphany, Asia has multiple levels of animal welfare plights due to their lack of legislation and financial reliance. When I started to research animal rights within Asia I could not understand how the dolphin slaughter and fur trade’s practices were legal. However, I now understand that these practices are simply part of Chinese culture due to a lack of laws prohibiting the act. So why don’t aren’t humane practices automatically implemented?  Simply due to monetary restrictions.

Though would legislation really help? I believe perhaps slightly but it seems that the major issue in China is their bottom line, the inhumane practices are all based on a system that is attempting to gain a product without an economic burden. It also seems apparent that Chinese citizens are aware that their county has a significant animal welfare problem. I now better understand why these in humane practices are occurring due to economic benefits but this does not result in me condoning the issue.

I feel as though I have been criticizing the industry as though I would assume China and Japan would have international standards implemented. However, a country should develop its own standards to match their own individual priorities (Rahaman, Walker, Rickets 2005 p.599).


Rahamn, S, Walker, L and Ricketts, W 2005, ‘Global perspectives on animal welfare: Asia, the far East and Oceania’, Rev.Sci.Tech.Off.In.Epiz, vol. 24, no.2, pp.597-610.

Whitfort, A 2012, ‘China’s Draft Animal Protection Law’, Sydney Law Review, vol.34, no. 347, pp. 347-370.


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