The State Council Information Office held a press conference on
Thursday to give its response to foreign media concerns about bile
extraction from bears and other animal welfare issues.
The illegal rearing of bears and/or extracting their bile in a
cruel manner will attract severe penalties, according to a senior
But approved bear farms will continue to exist in China for the
time being, as painlessly-extracted bile is crucial for medical
purposes, he said, adding that farming has vastly helped prevent
Wang Wei, deputy chief of the Department of Wildlife
Conservation under the State Forestry Administration, said: "Before
we find good alternatives for bear bile, we do not have a timetable
to eliminate the practice.”
Bear bile, considered an indispensable ingredient in traditional
Chinese medicine, is used in 123 drugs and has an efficacy not
matched by any other substance, Wang said.
As a result, a host of patients rely on medicines containing
bear bile for treatment. "So we must consider both the needs of
medical treatment and the protection of wild bears, and find a
win-win solution," Wang said.
He said that when bile-extraction technology was introduced to
China, some used surgically implanted metal tubes, causing
tremendous pain to the animals.
"That was a practice we are opposed to," he said, adding it
happened before China's
Wildlife Protection Law was enacted in 1988.
In addition to capping the production of bile powder, illegal or
substandard farms have been shut down, reducing the number of farms
from about 480 in the early 1990s to 68 fully regulated ones today,
where about 7,000 bears live in a suitable environment, Wang
"The cruel farming practice has basically been abolished," Wang
added. But he said some organizations or individuals are still
using old videos or photos of illegal farms to exaggerate the
Other issues also addressed by officials at the press conference
Skinning animals: Cases of animals such as dogs and cats skinned
alive is sporadic in some areas, Yu Fachang, a division director of
the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, said.
Sharks' fin: Yu said Chinese consumers are being advised to
change their dietary habits and eat less of the traditional
Li Yanliang, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture, said
China strictly adheres to the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, and has not violated
the ban on the fishing of whale shark, basking shark or great white
shark that are listed in the convention.
Dog killing: Guo Weimin, chief of the news department of the
State Council Information Office, refuted some recent foreign media
reports of the practice of public dog slaughters in Guangzhou of
south China and some other cities.
(China.org.cn, China Daily January 13, 2006)