China's role as the world's largest exporter of fur garments, with direct links to European and Asian countries, including Taiwan, deserves sharp criticism because of its lack of respect for life, animal rights activists from the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said yesterday.
EAST released a report on the Chinese fur industry in Taipei yesterday. It is the first ever report from inside China's fur farms and is based on field and desk research carried out last year and last month.
EAST worked in conjunction with groups in Switzerland and the UK, including Swiss Animal Protection, Social Progress for Animal Welfare and Care for the Wild International.
At a press conference, video footage taken during researchers' visits to several farms in Hebei Province -- which were raising from 50 to 6,000 animals -- was shown for the first time to the media in Asia.
Animals such as raccoons, foxes, and minks were shown being stunned with repeated blows to the head or by being pounded against the ground. The debilitated animal was then laid on its back or hung upside-down by its hind legs from a hook, and skinning would begin, with a knife inserted in the lower belly.
According to EAST's director, Chen Yu-min (
"We suspect that consumers buying fur products don't know about the brutality involved in the process. Innocent animals suffer for the fashion vanity of humans," Chen said.
According to the report, many animals remained alive after their skin had been stripped off, with breathing, heartbeat, as well as body and eyelid movements all evident for five to 10 minutes.
The report says most Chinese fur farms were established in the past 10 years. Wild species bred for fur include red foxes, Arctic foxes, raccoons, dogs, mink and Rex rabbits.
Wu Hung (
Most animals are killed at about six months old, when they molt for the first time.
Activists said a growing number of international fur traders, processors and fashion designers have gradually shifted business to China, where cheap labor and the absence of restrictive regulations have made it easier to do business and widened profit margins.
Activists said that in the past few years designers have promoted fur in everything from evening wear to sports wear. One fur coat requires the fur of about 80 minks or 25 foxes.
Government statistics in Taiwan suggest that the amount of fur products imported from overseas has increased dramatically, rising from 1,497kg in 2001 to 9,944kg in 2003.
Fur products imported from China, meanwhile, have also increased significantly. In 2003, more than 70 percent of fur products imported were from China. Last year, the percentage rose to 85 percent.
"Why do some consumers in Taiwan, which sits in a sub-tropical area ... need fur products to keep them warm?" Chen said.
Activists said entertainers in show business should take the lead to boycott fur products.
"In China's fur industry, we don't see any spirit to help the weak and aid the needy. Seeing this crime, Taiwan should not become an accomplice," Mary Chen (