Mahatma Gandhi would say that modern China is immoral

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A country is moral if it treats animals with kindness and respect

Pretty well everyone knows the famous Mahatma Gandhi saying which I repeat here: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.

There are currently no nationwide laws in China which explicitly prohibit the mistreatment of animals. There are some animal welfare laws apparently in the context of research and in zoos but I’d bet my bottom dollar that they are feeble, unenforced and perhaps even actively encourage animal abuse by the standards of the West. Yes, I know I’m very distrusting and cynical about China’s attitude towards animal welfare.

A country is moral if it treats animals with kindness and respect

A country is moral if it treats animals with kindness and respect. Image: PETA India.

But the point that I am making is clear. If you believe in Mahatma Gandhi’s thought about animal welfare then we have to conclude that China is an immoral country. It’s a great measure of morality: how the citizens of a country behave in relation to the animals of their country (and the wider world) both domestic and wild. This is because animals are inherently vulnerable to human abuses. They are there for the taking, to be used and abused in the interests of financial profit usually and if not that it would be for the fun of it (sport hunting).

So treating animals well requires self-discipline. It requires a degree of altruism and civility. It requires enlightenment and a desire to grant animals rights and sometimes rights equal to those of humans.

It isn’t just that China has almost no animal welfare laws, it is that they abuse animals horrendously. I know I’m generalising and there are obviously millions of Chinese people who treat animals very well at a personal level; however, at a general level you cannot disguise the horror of the relationship between the Chinese people and animals. You only have to look at the cat and dog meat markets and cat and dog fur markets. China exports more fur than any other country and the way they treat the animals does not bear description because it is too sickening and I won’t put people through it. I won’t show photos either because advertisers won’t advertise on this page if I do.

But the Chinese government totally accepts these animal abuses. They also accept and condone and even praise Chinese traditional medicine which is not based on science but on discredited ancient beliefs. Their so called medicine is leading to the extinction of iconic wild species because the Chinese like to eat body parts of these animals such as the Bengal tiger and pangolins in the belief that it does them good.

And the fact that they are so enamoured of their traditional medicine indicates that their attitudes are anchored to a time a couple of millennia ago. When was Chinese medicine invented? It’s described as one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Chinese herbal remedies date back at least 2,200 years. The earliest records of traditional Chinese medicine date from the third century BC. Truly ancient and in those days you could understand why the people of China believed in it. But they’ve dragged that attitude into the 21st-century where it is wholly inappropriate.

It smacks of the Islam faith and the literal interpretation of the Koran which is also highly inappropriate because the guidance provided in that book often relates to the time of the Prophet Mohammad which is 583-609 A.D. about 1,500 years ago. You can’t base your life on the writings and concepts of your ancestors living so many years ago.

You would hope that over those 1,500 years, or 2,000 in the case of Chinese traditional medicine, that the world has become more civilised. We know that it has. But the Chinese believe in their medicine so they believe that eating the tiger penis gives them an erection! Or something equally ludicrous and superstitious.

So in China you have this high-tech country, very industrious with attitudes towards animals harking back to the time of Jesus Christ. And you have strict laws about prostitution and all kinds of minor matters like wearing strange hair styles, which is meant to paint a picture of a highly moral country but in truth it is highly immoral. And the biggest indicator of immorality is their backward attitude towards animal welfare.

They determinedly refuse to introduce animal welfare law and the reason is probably obvious: they can’t do it because there’s so much animal abuse that if they introduce these laws there would be chaos. They decided they can’t enforce them because there would be uproar. It would mean cleaning up the whole blinking country which would be impossible.

It really is time for the international community to do something about this. The West must not be held hostage to cheap products manufactured in China. We must give up this addiction, manufacture our own stuff, sell them at a higher price if needs must and the consumer should accept it in the interests of a better world for people and animals.