- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2006

Shaming China

The Humane Society of the United States is appealing to the Chinese ambassador to urge his government to stop the mass killing of dogs to control the spread of rabies.

In a letter to Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle sharply criticized China for slaughtering 50,000 dogs in Yunnan province and offered to donate $100,000 to help Chinese officials vaccinate dogs in Shandong province, where the disease spread to humans and killed 16 persons over the past eight months.

“There are far better ways of addressing rabies control to promote the safety of your citizens, the good reputation of China and the welfare of the dogs,” Mr. Pacelle wrote.

“To demonstrate our willingness to provide constructive solutions, we are offering to support an integrated rabies and humane dog control program in affected villages in Jining city in Shandong province.”

Mr. Pacelle said the offer is contingent on China guaranteeing “the full cooperation of the relevant national and local authorities” and on “an understanding that mass and indiscriminate dog-killing programs will be terminated immediately.”

Chinese officials this week declined to comment on the Humane Society offer, said an Associated Press report from Beijing. However, the dog massacre drew a rare rebuke from China’s state-controlled press.

The Legal Daily, in an editorial, denounced the killings as an “extraordinarily crude, coldblooded and lazy way for the government to deal with epidemic disease,” the AP reported.

Dog ownership has soared in China, where about 70 percent of rural households own them as pets but only 3 percent have them vaccinated against rabies, government statistics show. China’s Health Ministry reported that nearly 2,400 people died after contracting rabies from dogs last year.

Blind activist jailed

A top U.S. diplomat also tried to appeal to China’s “reputation” yesterday, as she called on authorities to release a blind man arrested for gathering evidence about forced abortions in provincial villages.

“For China’s own reputation, China needs to release him from prison,” Ellen R. Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, told reporters in Beijing.

Mrs. Sauerbrey held talks with Ru Xiaomei, deputy director of China’s State Family Planning Commission, about the detention of Chen Guangcheng, who was arrested for recording villagers’ complaints about being forced to have abortions.

Mr. Chen was charged with illegal assembly and intent to damage public property.

Mrs. Sauerbrey said “nothing positive” came out of her discussion with Mr. Ru, who listened to her complaints but remained noncommittal.

China, with 1.3 billion people, claims to encourage one-child families in the cities and two-child families in the countryside but insists it punishes health care workers who force women to have abortions.

Mrs. Sauerbrey is part of a delegation led by Paula J. Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, on a two-day visit to Beijing for the second round of talks under the China-Global Issues Forum.

The other U.S. officials include: Claudia A. McMurray, assistant secretary for oceans, environment and science; Amy O’Neill Richard, senior adviser to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; and Norman Nicholson, director of donor coordination and outreach at the Agency for International Development.

The Chinese side is headed by Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai.

The forum is focusing on cooperation on clean energy resources, public health, humanitarian assistance, international development and aid programs, human trafficking, environmental conservation and sustainable development.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

washingtontimes.com.

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