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Inside China: Markets, humans and animals
Question of the Day
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.
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.
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.
About the Author
Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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