I recently returned from a beautiful, 3-week trip to China. I observed how much it has changed since my last visit 5 years ago. There is no question that the speed of economic development in China as well as the infrastructure wonders like the high speed train networks leave Europe far behind. Yes, pollution is still a smelly problem – EXACTLY like in our suffocating Wrocław. But if anyone dares to think that China is worse than Europe – I will repeat again that we are now in the Middle Ages and China has better… probably everything. Except for one thing that has not changed a bit since I first went to live in China almost 10 years ago. Animal rights.
In 2008 when I lived in Nanjing, I already noticed the weak birds tightly packed in cages with no possibility to move. I witnessed a sickly, red-eyed, featherless chicken tightly tied to a pole with a thin rope around its neck. I saw turtles and gold fish sold as décor in key-chain format without oxygen (sealed, heart-shaped, plastic container).
Of course, these observations only give a vague impression of the Chinese mentality when it comes to animals. I will not talk about the bestiality of dog beatings to make the meat tender before throwing pups alive into boiling water. It is a fact, but most Chinese people would not participate in SUCH practices. Still, I believe that many other things they do continually contribute to animal misfortune in China.
There is a huge difference in how we now perceive animals in Europe and how the Chinese see them. In general*, we treat animals as friends – we take an interest in their well-being, we shelter them from pain and we allow them to make our lives richer. Chinese people, also want to get richer through their animals but they treat them as things/means to an end. They don’t seem to acknowledge that an animal can be hurt or scared. When faced with a choice to hurt an animal and earn money now – they will hurt the animal without a question. In Europe this type of behaviour happens and it shocks and disgusts people – in China it’s met with acceptance.
Let me illustrate with a real life example from my trip. I visited the Gobi desert in China (city of Dunhuang) with one to-do item. I wanted to ride a strong, shiny camel…into the sunset. I paid a large sum of money for what was supposed to be a 1-on-1 camel time. We were promised to ride our camels, rest and walk with them… When the animals arrived, they were tired and dull. For my unprofessional eye, only one of them seemed strong enough to carry a human. The guide showed us how to get on the camel and off we went. A few minutes in I noticed the huge steel rod pierced through the camel’s nose. He breathed heavily and after thinking how they put it there (wanna have a guess?) – I noticed he is not even properly healed – a red, bloody infection tortured the struggling animal. The guide yanked the rope connected to the metal rod and my camel cried. At that point I told the guide to be gentle (which he listened to). For the few minutes my head was spinning and I decided to tell the camel guide off. I asked him how dare he bring a suffering animal to work? ‘’He’s fine’’ – he answered. I asked him why not let him heal first? “he’s fine” – he answered. I screamed no – he’s not fine. I obviously spoiled the camel trip for everyone involved as nobody wanted to get back on their camel anymore. After 10 minutes it was all over.
The next day however, around 8-10 Chinese people who saw us at a distance decided they also wanted the camel experience. The night before I managed to warn 2 Chinese girls about bloody camels, and in the morning they cancelled their participation. Before leaving I approached the stall where two camels were kept (the ones that didn’t go to work) and it turned out my camel was one of them. The animals were petrified when I approached, running from one end of the stall to the other. Those are the animals that are supposed work with people. They are trained to be obedient by torture. If they try to oppose, the guide will yank the rod piercing in their noses. In their stall, they were now bloodier than the day before. Obviously the camel guide could not let go the money earning opportunity. My words meant nothing but why would they? This is the Chinese mentality in a nutshell and as long as the business is running, it’s all ‘’fine’’.
Chinese people are extremely talented, they have resources that we can’t even dream of in Europe. They are great hosts, they are also artistic and amazing at making a show. China has money and can impress. Chinese people are also experts on bribery – just as they bribed the FCI member countries to vote for it hosting the 2019 World Dog Show. (Read the brave Swedish Kennel Club (SKK) standpoint on the FCI decision to award China the World Dog Show 2019) But it needs to be clear that supporting China in this case means supporting Chinese mentality of animal abuse acceptance. Of animal disrespect.
Many of the FCI country member organizations are clouded by money and dogs come second. But in China it’s different – the animals don’t even feature on the „what we care about” list. If you are thinking about showing your dog at China World Dog show 2019 – let me give you some facts.
- Chinese people spit out chewed barbecue meats, trash and other dirt on the streets so virtually wherever you go you will need to watch your dog for the amount of ‚disgust’ that lies on the Chinese streets, I would not want my dogs paws touching the Chinese ground.
- There are not many green areas in the cities. There are not many veterinarians in China. There is no quality dog food in the stores. And finally…
- There are dirty rats and undernourished, unvaccinated stray dogs roaming around the streets… but hey… those will probably all be captured and killed off by the Chinese authorities in the town that hosts the grand World Dog Show in China in 2019. Obviously China will make a great show… nothing like you see in Europe. They will fund the judge’s flight tickets, hotel rooms and splendid Chinese food. After all they managed to get rid of smog for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, surely they will pull the show off and get rabies out of town for a weekend. The show will leave everyone grasping for more.
Remember though, that the smog in Beijing is back. Chinese mentality of animal bestiality and abuse may also be covered with smiles and pretend care for a couple of days, but it’s not changing anytime soon.
* Obviously there are animal abusers in Europe too, and animal lovers in China (especially old people with their toy poodles).