Is the Concept of Animal Welfare Incompatible with Chinese Culture?

In: Society & Animals
Deborah Cao School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, Griffith University Australia

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In discussions about nonhuman animal protection in China in recent years, one consistent theme is many people in China believe that animal welfare and the legal protection of animals are ahead of their time, and that animal welfare is a Western concept and practice, incompatible with Chinese culture. I argue that animal welfare is compatible with Chinese culture as seen through elements in Chinese traditional philosophy, imperial laws, and some idiomatic expressions in the Chinese language that are sympathetic toward animals. It is acknowledged that the realities in Chinese society have been very harsh as far as animals are concerned and much needs to be done in Chinese society to live up to some of the ideals espoused in Chinese culture and tradition. The grassroots animal protection efforts in China for the past ten years or so have been contributing positively and gaining traction in the right direction.

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