Merritt Clifton of Animal People in the USA kindly allowed us to reprint the following comments, which we consider very interesting – we commend to Quaker readers especially the paragraphs 4 – 6, as they may well seem particularly significant.

“WSPA has not gotten anywhere [in the campaign against bear bile farms] and my view is that their approach never has and never will.  Jill Robinson of the Animals Asia Foundation has since 1999 gotten more than 500 bears out of small bile farms that have then been closed.  WSPA alleges that this just means more bears are kept on the big farms, but there is no evidence that the market for bear bile is expanding, and plenty of indications that it is not.  Meanwhile, Robinson gets hugely favorable publicity all over China.

The Chinese government will never respond to external pressure, because in the Confucian philosophy of government, responding to external pressure is a sign of weakness.  The way to help in China is to help Chinese-based projects, of which there are now hundreds – not western pressure groups.

The Chinese government has for several years been responding very positively to internal pressure and has actually been encouraging it through the official state news media and by conspicuously not interfering with activists who are doing things such as rescuing cats from trucks and trains and storming cat meat markets.  This is unheard of in response to most other protest movements.

But again, an understanding of the Confucian approach to government helps.  Confucian governing involves building a near-universal consensus that a law is necessary before passing it – very much unlike the western style of governance,  in which the approach is to pass a law first and then enforce it.

Beijing, against considerable resistance from some of the provinces, has for five to seven years now been mobilizing consensus in favor of a humane law.  It will not be passed until it has about 95% public support, because having to acknowledge and respond to non-compliance with a law is also seen as weakness in the Confucian view.

China experimented with western-style governance under Mao and it was an abysmal failure, resulting in the deaths of millions. The pendulum swung back to Confucianism and although it can be frustratingly slow, it also tends to lead to lasting results.

Incidentally, I have been writing about the situation of animals in China at every opportunity since September 1970, when a Chinese acquaintance began giving me info and asking me to write about it.”

Merritt Clifton
P.O. Box 960
Clinton,  WA  98236