There has been much talk about Chinese wet markets these last few months. To an outsider they look barbaric. These are street food markets in which animals are slaughtered on-site for paying customers and the practice has rightly outraged many. But this only scratches the surface of China’s horrific animal welfare problem. Currently, there are no national laws that explicitly prohibit the mistreatment of animals in China. 


Livestock farms are no better than wet markets. Witnesses​ claim that multiple species are crammed together in filthy battery-farm conditions, ‘crushed into unconsciousness’ in gross neglect. Some are dogs that will end up in the annual dog meat festivals where they will be boiled alive. China’s fur farming trade, the largest in the world, sees animals such as foxes, minks, rabbits and more locked inside outdoor cages in both scorching hot and freezing cold weather until they are beaten and skinned alive for their fur. Animals kept in these kinds of conditions are said to chew on their tails and limbs and throw themselves against the bars of their cages in despair. 

Farming is not the only issue though. Testing​ on animals is compulsory for imported cosmetics and the tortuous testing sees rabbits, mice and guinea pigs force-fed beauty products and having cosmetics rubbed into their eyes until they go blind.

Thousands of animals are also sold and exploited for entertainment. The circus trade​ sees bears, lions, tigers and more beaten into learning tricks to perform for audiences. This is also a commonplace practice in zoos. In city centres, street vendors sell endangered exotic animals as pets and disturbingly, water creatures such as fish, frogs and turtles as keyrings. They are caught and sealed into plastic bubbles, with just enough water to breathe for a few days but no room to move. They are stuck like this until they suffocate.

China’s traditional medicine trade requires the killing of animals for the consumption of obscure parts of their bodies, supposedly for medical purposes though this has no scientific backing. One of the most common animals used are tigers. There are around 10,000 tigers in farms across China in the name of traditional medicine — almost three times as many as are left in the wild worldwide. A huge industry within Chinese medicine is ​the bile farming trade. Bile farms ​see black bears bred to be kept in tiny ‘crush cages’ as they are continuously mutilated for their stomach bile, every day for the entirety of their lives. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, demand for bear bile has gone up as China has been promoting it as a treatment for Covid-19.

China’s commonplace abuse of animals should cause global concern. Now that it has been called to our attention, we can no longer ignore it.

One organisation trying to help animals affected by cruelty all across Asia is Animal Asia. Their current forefront campaign is focused on bile farms and rescuing the bears. 

See how you can support them at https://www.animalsasia.org/