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Beijing suspends draft animal welfare rule
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-17 11:38

Beijing authorities' decision to suspend local regulations on animal welfare has aroused public debate from home and abroad.

According to a draft released by the Beijing municipal government on its web site earlier this month, rules for the treatment and welfare for animals being transported and facing slaughter were to be prescribed for the first time in the country's history.

But the law was withdrawn on Wednesday, just four days later, without any explanation. Sources within the city's Legal Affairs Office said the draft had already been debunked as impractical by experts, and there are no other plans for animal welfare legislation within the next five years.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), a non-governmental organization, said it was sorry to hear about the decision.

"More than 100 countries including some developing countries in Africa have adopted laws against abusing animals, but China has not," an IFAW statement said.

"China has to legislate to ensure animal welfare if the country's livestock husbandry wants to follow international practices," IFAW said.

There is regulation to ensure animal rights in the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The export of animal products will be negatively influenced if animal rights are not protected as the animals are raised, transported and slaughtered, according to the rules.

Furthermore, IFAW disagrees with some experts who believe that although a good thing, legislation on animal welfare is not practical in a still-developing nation such as China.

IFAW officials also noted that the state of China's economy is far enough along to allow for the rules.

Many Chinese experts, especially legal experts, as well as members of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, are also appealing for the drafting of a law on animal welfare as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, a commentary published in the China Youth Daily said it is reasonable and convincing for local Beijing authorities to suspend legislation animal rights legislation now.

"According to the draft, if an animal is to be killed for financial gain, it should be sedated and slaughtered quickly. It should be isolated to ensure that other animals cannot see the killing procedure. But the regulation will be difficult to enforce in real life," the comment by Xi Xuchu said.

"Most of the people slaughtering domestic animals for meat in China now would violate the regulation," the comment said.

"It will be difficult to punish all of those people who act against the regulation, which is expected to be a big figure," the comment said.

Xi drew a conclusion that it will be better to be practical now rather than leaving a lot of problems for the law enforcement.

The commentary confirmed that legislation to ensure animal rights is of course beneficial.

"Although the regulation will not be published that soon, I believe it will be adopted by authorities in the future," Xi said.

Animal welfare aims to make animals live healthily and happily. Its principles include letting animals have the freedom of being free from thirst and hunger, living in comfort, remaining free from injuries and suffering, living not in fear and not in sorrow.

China does not have a law to ensure animal welfare now.

It is expected that a management regulation over animals used for experiment is in discussion.

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