The fact that Heather Mills will be ice skating with a glued-in prosthesis is, as it turns out, only the second-biggest item of PETA-related news today. It has been revealed that everyone’s favorite “animal rights organization” will be setting up shop here in Shanghai. In fact, says our sources, a photo shoot boycotting China’s secondary fur trade has already occurred.
Word of Newkirk and Co.‘s arrival comes hot on the heels of a proposed “Anti-Animal Abuse Law,” a questionably-hyphenated measure thought up by the Chinese Animal Protection Network to outlaw China’s oft-lampooned practice of eating dog and cat meat. If made law (which it most likely won’t), the proposal, which first made headlines while in its embryonic state last summer, would impose jail time and fines of up to RMB 5,000 (individuals) and 500,000 (organizations) for violations. Though news of its existence is gaining momentum in the international press, the measure has drawn criticism from many Chinese. One Guangxi man questions “in a society where people eat people, isn’t it funny to talk about whether dogs and cats can be eaten?” Fair enough.
Animal rights have only recently become an issue in modern China – the first piece of related legislation was drawn up just last September. Conceived in conjunction with Britain’s less-notorious RSPCA, the measure, currently still in draft stage, came to be largely in the aftermath of the 2006 slaughter of nearly 50,000 dogs believed to have rabies. As it stands, only endangered species receive any sort of protection under China’s laws.
Let’s get one thing straight: Shanghaiist isn’t particularly fond of the idea of dining on a puppy dog or kitty cat. That said, one thing seems clear: with a homegrown Chinese organization at the ready to tackle the issue of animal rights head-on, do we really need PETA, whose first campaign in China skewers the secondary fur trade by, you know, shooting undercover videos of puppies being slaughtered without lifting a finger to help them? Again, we understand and even agree with the sentiment – killing innocent animals, especially in inhumane ways, is wrong. But in a Shanghai and, indeed, a China where crybaby behavior by international organizations leads to little more than a smile and a “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out,” PETA’s past tactics, and its members’ tendencies towards holier-than-thou snobbery, in other countries worry us tremendously.
On the flip side, the Chinese Animal Protection Network was established in 2007 and features five “key philosophies,” the last of which is our favorite:
“Animal rights is not a Western concept; the three pillars of Chinese tradition—Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism—all have teachings regarding respect towards the lives of animals.”
Has a much better ring to it than “animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment,” don’t you think? Speaking of which, if China’s PETA campaign looks anything like the naked-lady soft porn used in the West, things might get a little on the chilly side. Anyone got some knock-off “fur” coats we can send their way?