While I wouldn’t want people to think that we at China Economic Review have an improper fascination with animals – we are animal-lovers, but in the socially-acceptable sense – I feel obliged to persevere with our dog-slaughtering thread.
We have established that dog-owners in Yunnan were offered US$0.63 a pooch to kill their pets as part of a provincial purge that saw 54,429 animals culled (here), and that China’s new breed of animal lovers were outraged by it (here).
Now we find that China has in fact grown rather rich from allowing foreigners to hunt animals far more endangered than the domestic dog. By the end of 2005, a total of US$36 million had been earned by granting 1,101 foreign nationals permission to hunt, the South China Morning Post reported at the weekend.
This emerged after an auction was planned – and subsequently cancelled in response to (you’ve guessed it) a public outcry – in Chengdu that would have allowed four Chinese agents to bid for permits to hunt 289 individual animals. The permits, which would then have been sold overseas, covered white-lipped deer, Tibetan antelopes, wild yak, argali (a sheep with spiritual horns, apparently) and wolves.
It appears these hunts have been taking place for 20 years – in remote parts of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai – with licenses awarded by "internal administrative approval" as opposed to auctions.
It’s difficult to know how to respond to this. In a way, the existence of such hunts isn’t at all surprising but it makes for an interesting parallel to the dead dogs situation.
I suppose the answer would be to convince the Western hunters that the potentially rabid dogs are in fact unique creatures prized by game shooters across China (having seen the condition of some dogs in the country’s less-developed areas, this might be deceptively easy). The hunters would then be persuaded to spend huge amounts of money on what is in fact a US$0.63-per-carcass killing, with the dog owners getting the difference.
But what is perhaps most interesting is the fact that the whole system was scuppered by its move to the auction format. Something that was previously decided in non-transparent and – probably – bribe-fueled circumstances was taken apart due to its entry into the public domain.