The provincial legislature of South China's Guangdong Province passed a regulation Friday afternoon that recommends that people give up eating wildlife. Decision came after two months of discussion and revision.
The provincial regulation on public health says people "should" give up eating wildlife. It was approved by 53 votes, with 11 abstentions.
The Guangdong Provincial People's Congress held a public hearing and an advisory seminar in July. They agreed that the regulation should include a clause prohibiting the eating of wild animals, but disagreements on the intent and feasibility of the regulation arose before it was submitted for final approval.
"The final vote just reflects the viewpoints of the public," said Wang Xudong, a member of the legal commission of the provincial People's Congress Standing Committee.
The new regulation includes a clause that says: "People should give up their habit of eating wild animals and not eat wild animals that have not been quarantined and that with easily spread epidemics or other wildlife under legal protection."
The original version of the draft on public health had no clause on eating wild animals but this was changed after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
However, the legislation to ban the eating of wild animals caused heated debate in Guangdong, where the practice is steeped in centuries of tradition.
Li Huanxin, a member of the legislature's legal commission, said: "People still disagree on the range, motive and the feasibility of the new clause.
"But everyone agreed that the legislation on the eating of wildlife should go ahead despite the disputes," he said.
The definition of "wild animals" was a key question during the debate.
Lu Jiahai, a member of the provincial expert team against SARS, said: "Domesticated animals and those raised in the wild are totally different.
"I can find no reason to stop the eating of home-bred animals if they pass a strict quarantine," Lu said.
Li Huanxin said: "We did not get too tangled up in the definition of wild animals." He added the existing laws on the protection of wild animals clearly allowed for a ban on the eating of wild animals.
He said the main purpose of the regulation is to encourage people to adopt better habits and so it did not include specific definitions or lists of animals that cannot be eaten.
(China Daily July 28, 2003)