BEIJING - The practice of extracting bile from captive bears should be banned in China as soon as possible, a Chinese political adviser said on Friday.
"A timetable should be made to ban the practice in the shortest possible time," said Jia Baolan, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body.
Many black bears caged in farms in Fujian, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces are being cruelly treated, said Jia on the sidelines of the ongoing annual parliamentary session.
The political adviser urged the government to put black bears under top-level state protection, from the current second level, and called for the formulation of a law on animal protection to conserve biodiversity in the country.
The government should also encourage farmers to exit from the bear bile extraction industry, and stop registration of bear bile-made medicine while encouraging research on alternatives of bear bile, said Jia, also an executive editor-in-chief of a magazine Dushu, or "Reading Books."
Many traditional Chinese medicine experts claimed that bear bile can clear the liver and improve vision.
For more than 3,000 years, bears have been hunted in Asia for their gallbladders and the valuable bile within. Only in the 1980s, after rampant hunting greatly reduced their numbers, did countries like China and the Republic of Korea take steps to ban bear hunting.
Jing Yidan, a deputy to China's top legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), said there should be legislation against ill-treatment of animals.
"The law should be made in light of respecting animals' life, and preventing maltreatment of animals," said Jing, also a renowned anchorwoman with the state television, at the on-going parliamentary session.
The appeal by lawmakers and political advisors to ban bear bile extraction has won wide support from netizens in China, as there are more than 50,000 postings on "save black bears" on the microblogs of the Chinese portal Tencent.