A potential revision to China's wildlife protection law that the National People's Congress (NPC) discussed Wednesday is spurring debate online. The amendment would allow animals bred by professional breeders to be treated differently than wild animals in the eyes of the law. Professionals with breeding permits would be allowed to sell products from animals they have bred, including tiger bones, which some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe are of high medicinal value. Online protesters, however, say that this amendment, if approved, would go against the law's original purpose: protecting wild animals.
"South China tigers are nearly extinct now and and the number of Siberian tigers is also very low," said Chen Zhu, deputy chairman of the NPC. "Under these circumstances, using tigers bred in captivity as medicinal products... would be a terrible image." Chen added that many of the medicinal substances found in animals can now be reproduced artificially, so animals should be taken out of the equation. "The five development concepts [espoused in China's 13th Five-year Plan], particularly green development, should apply to this area as well," he said. His words were echoed by other NPC members who argued that the law should clearly distinguish between breeding animals for commercial use and breeding endangered animals for conservation. Some even bluntly stated that they should be discussing how to protect animals, not how to use them.