Why having a pet dog is a complex issue in China

By Lin Lan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/18 23:08:06

The government of Hangzhou, in East China's Zhejiang Province has reinforced rules on raising pet dogs starting November and running through December. The rules will impose fines on individual dog owners up to 5,000 yuan ($720) if their dog injures someone, and dog walking is banned from 7 am to 7 pm.

But The New York Times accused some Chinese officials and others of "remaining hostile" against dogs and quoted an animal rights campaigner as saying that Hangzhou's campaign was "regressive," "lazy" and "inhumane." Some Western media also circulated videos of a Chinese law enforcement officer beating dogs, with the authenticity of the videos yet to be verified.

The Urban Management Bureau of Hangzhou published a statement Saturday, saying that the campaign focuses on punishing dog owners who fail to comply with the rules, not on punishing dogs. Hangzhou's campaign reflects China's local government is seeking a new way to regulate the uncivilized behavior among dog owners. Whether the new rules can be accepted needs to be tested by further practice. Regulating pet dog raising is a complicated issue in China.

There is nothing wrong with Western media attaching importance to animal rights. But these same media shouldn't neglect China's national conditions.

According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, China was third in the world for dog ownership by the end of 2016, with a total of 27.4 million pet dogs, a figure which doesn't include unregistered or stray dogs. China has the second highest number of reported rabies cases in the world.

China is the world's most populous country, with some Chinese cities among the most densely populated worldwide. If Chinese families all raise dogs, simply cleaning up all the dog poop would be a heavy social burden, not to mention the risk of infectious disease or rabies. Raising dogs is a big issue that influences cities' environments and millions of residents' health.

Why are many international practices hard to carry out in China? It's all because of China's immense population. This is our basic national condition. Regulating dog ownership in cities shows the difficulty in China's city management and in the whole country's governance. No other country faces such great challenge in governance as China does.

If multiplied by China's population, any small issue will become a big problem in China. If a mayor of a foreign city were asked to regulate such "small things," on the scale of China, he or she would be at a loss. But in the 40 years of China's reform and opening-up, China started from these small things and eventually achieved large-scale urbanization. That's the dialectic to read China's development.

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