MAR­KETS, HU­MANS AND AN­I­MALS

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation -

At a cor­po­rate gath­er­ing a few months ago in China, the chair­man of a ma­jor com­pany made this sen­ti­men­tal re­mark:

“[My com­pany] has a work­force of over 1 mil­lion world­wide, and as hu­man be­ings are also an­i­mals, to man­age 1 mil­lion an­i­mals gives me a headache.”

The cor­po­rate chair­man went on to add that he planned to go to a zoo to learn how to man­age an­i­mals.

The chair­man is Terry Gou, and his com­pany is Hon Hai, par­ent com­pany of Fox­conn, the world’s largest elec­tron­ics sup­plier, which is a pri­mary maker of Ap­ple’s block­buster prod­ucts such as iphones and ipads.

What Mr. Gou said re­flects a grue­some re­al­ity be­hind China’s eco­nomic mir­a­cle: Hu­man be­ings are of­ten treated like an­i­mals, and the treat­ment of an­i­mals in China is among the world’s worst.

Take Mr. Gou’s Fox­conn Inc. for ex­am­ple. Work­ers are treated so poorly at his fac­to­ries in China that it has the world’s high­est sui­cide rate for work­ers. Since 2007, scores of Fox­conn work­ers have killed them­selves, of­ten by jump­ing out of win­dows from the com­pany’s high-rise cor­po­rate build­ings.

In May 2010 alone, at least 13 Fox­conn work­ers in Shen­zhen, China, sep­a­rately jumped to their demise, though the num­ber is cer­tainly higher since then be­cause the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment dili­gently blocks news of this sort.

A fierce de­bate is un­der way in Bei­jing in re­cent days af­ter more than 30 “peo­ple’s del­e­gates” sub­mit­ted a bill to the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence to pro­tect the wide­spread prac­tice of “ex­tract­ing bile from live bears.”

Bear bile is thought in China to have medic­i­nal ef­fects for a va­ri­ety of ill­nesses. The best bile is from a liv­ing bear extracted by cruel meth­ods. Large bear farms have mush­roomed across the na­tion for this pur­pose to meet the huge de­mand for bear bile.

A week ago, the prom­i­nent writer Feng Ji­cai, the artist Han Meilin, and TV host Jing Yi­dan jointly pro­posed a ban on such an­i­mal cru­elty, caus­ing a huge back­lash from China’s po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment with a vested in­ter­est in the bear-bile in­dus­try.

An­i­mal cru­el­ties are even more pro­nounced on China’s din­ner ta­bles. Each year, thou­sands of sharks world­wide die cruel deaths to sat­isfy Chi­nese de­mand for shark-fin soup.

In 2004, an of­fi­cial sur­vey by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in­di­cated that China’s co­bra pop­u­la­tion had dropped by 90 per­cent from pre­vi­ous decades be­cause of culi­nary de­mands.

Pop­u­lar on Chi­nese menu and in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine phar­ma­cies are wild an­i­mals like poi­sonous snakes, owls, bear parts, rats, pan­golins, elephant trunks, mon­i­tor lizards, tiger parts, croc­o­diles, mon­keys, swans, pea­cocks, pheas­ants, civet cats, foxes, emus, leop­ard cats, mice, cen­tipedes, bats, sala­man­ders, worms, scor­pi­ons, bee­tles and co­coons. In some lo­ca­tions, do­mes­ti­cated cats and dogs are pop­u­lar.

Known as zi­heche or taipan, hu­man pla­cen­tas oc­cupy a par­tic­u­lar place in this genre, as they are a ma­jor source of in­come for thou­sands of Chi­nese hos­pi­tals be­cause they can be sold as a cov­eted item to make soup for its al­leged medic­i­nal qual­i­ties. There is no le­gal pro­tec­tion of woman’s rights in this re­gard.

On March 6, China’s deputy health min­is­ter, Huang Jiefu, ad­mit­ted to the public that ex­e­cuted pris­on­ers were the main source of trans­planted or­gans in China. He also noted that China’s de­mand for or­gan trans­plants was huge and that there was a dire need for more hu­man or­gans.

China has been the world’s lead­ing ex­e­cu­tioner. Each year, China ex­e­cutes more pris­on­ers than the rest of the world com­bined, ac­cord­ing to all ma­jor hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the Amnesty In­ter­na­tional.

The “so­cial­ist mar­ket econ­omy” is China’s legally de­fined eco­nomic model. With mar­ket in­cen­tives and so­cial­ist ar­ro­ga­tions of le­gal rights and mod­ern val­ues, China has be­come a par­adise for state cap­i­tal­ism with­out de­cent hu­man and an­i­mal rights.

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