I think in Britain we can be absurdly sentimental about animals. I remember a terrible fuss about the Queen going pheasant shooting at Sandringham and breaking the neck of a wounded bird. Exactly the right thing to do of course, put the poor creature out of its misery. And I actually enjoy shooting, although I haven’t done it for a while. I hope that doesn’t shock you Rebecca, if you’re reading this. I have a rule though, if I kill it I eat it. With the exception of rats. This strikes me as a much more morally decent position than buying some antibiotic-stuffed cleverly lit piece of meat from Tesco. Meat is mostly greyish but it doesn’t look it in the display cabinets. I suppose what I’m saying is that it’s good to do your own dirty work. I’d like to hear an opposing argument from someone who is not a vegetarian. I like fishing too. I treat them as best I can and put them back. 

But….some things I see in China turn my stomach. I’ve watched live turtles being disembowelled and in the supermarkets they sell live fish. Often the shopper will take the fish out of the tank and then very inexpertly try to kill it by banging it against the side of the tank. A couple of times I’ve offered to kill the fish. Occasionally I see fish on the conveyor belt in a plastic bag at the till which are obviously still alive. Not good. There’s a nice line from Jeremy Bentham saying something like, the question is not whether they can think but whether they can feel pain?  The answer seems  obvious to me but even if were unsure we should give them the benefit of the doubt. 

There is a dedicated fishing channel on Chinese TV like there is in the UK. I found it by flicking through the channels one night. Perhaps I’m a tad romantic but I like to think that when I’m fishing in the UK I’m communing with nature. I wear drab clothes and keep quiet. Chinese anglers wear fluorescent trainers, hi-viz jackets and shout a lot. Although perhaps that’s unfair. TV has certain demands. When I watched this channel I was pleased to see that they put the fish back. Then I watched a Chinese angler hold up his prize for a photograph by putting his fingers in its eyes. 

Chinese people are no more or less cruel than Brits. Indeed it is of course absurd to talk about cruel Nations. But there is a category difference here somewhere.  I notice these things and most Chinese people don’t. Brits may be too sentimental, no let’s call it empathetic but the Chinese aren’t empathetic enough. Maybe we should learn from one another. 

3 thoughts on “On some Chinese people’s attitude to animals. ”

  1. I reckon too that as with the UK it depends on the animal. I can remember some of the students I met at FJUT loving cuddle dogs and I’m guessing that here there wouldn’t be a national outcry if people were found to be mistreating foxes

  2. Quite right, Mark. If you’re not willing to hunt, kill and prepare an animal/fish, you shouldn’t be eating it. And the hunting/killing should be done as humanely as possible, to minimise the suffering of the creature. More meat-eaters should think like you! ☺

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