584Challenges for Bioethics from Asia
were used for saving lives. This was “necessity”. But today, modern medicine has developed, and people have more choices. They can choose western medicine, and even in Chinese medicine, there are still many substitutes to take the place of animal products. But some people want to use animal products just for “desire”. My students said that in this situation, the public had the right to know the facts in Chinese medicine making-process, and the traditional Chinese medicine should develop and make substitutes. Both the public and doctors should do responsible choices at the base of knowing the facts.
Some students thought that Chinese traditional culture was somewhat cruel for animals; some students were also confused on: Now that we had emotions with animals, whether we should eat meat or not? For this question, people thought: Ethics reflect an idea in certain conditions of politics, economics and culture. In history, the relationship between humans and animals was just like that between animals, which was the food catena. Different people in different periods have different culture and concepts. In history, there was the culture and concepts which went with nature and there was also the culture and concepts which were against nature and even destroyed nature. In modern society, it is cruel to eat dog meat, but in Chinese history, dogs, cattle, horses, sheep, pigs and chickens were called “the six livestock”, which were allowed to eat. But dogs are considered as people’s partners and friends in our lives. So now fewer and fewer people eat dog meat. 2000 years ago, Chinese people mentioned that catching animals should be limited to satisfy the basic need of people. People could not catch animals in multitudinous time. There were cruel behaviors of maltreating and killing animals in Chinese fare culture. But these behaviors are more and more unacceptable by the public nowadays. Raising birds in cages used to be fashionable, but now more and more people want to see birds free in nature. European women used to show their high social status by wearing fur coats. But the emotions of protecting animal rights originated in Europe changed this mode. Today, scientific culture develops highly and ecological civilization is formed, loving nature and protecting nature are the trends of the world. This is the historical process of people’s ethics, people care about from only humans to all lives of nature. China started a bit later than other countries at this historical process, but the public had introspective attitude about animal rights. Some traditional bad habits are thrown away as the development of human civilization. The Chinese people must take the responsibility of protecting animal rights. Of course this will take some time.
How to improve the Chinese people’s recognition of animal rights, my students thought that making laws as soon as possible was necessary. Two years ago, a college student in Beijing hurt a black bear in the Beijing zoo by spraying acid on it for an experiment . The student didn’t know his behavior was illegal. And there were not suitable statutes for it. It caused a discussion about education and animal rights in the whole society. I introduced the origin and development of the animal rights and laws on protecting animals in Europe to my students. I also introduced the laws in Hong Kong and Tai Land. The students have paid more attention to the laws about animal- raising and butcher process ever since. They also thought that protecting partner animals is very necessary, because they knew some facts through daily lives and mediums. But they knew little about experimental animals. I told my students that although until today, there hasn’t been a real animal rights protecting law, we have started to reform《The Regulations of Superintending Experimental Animals》. The People’s Congress and the Political Counsel are doing research on it, and it’s right time for lawmaking.
I want to add one thing here, when I started my work 5 years ago, biological classes of middle schools in Beijing had cancelled dissection, and there were fewer experiments that used living animals. Although there were some experiments on observing insects, the teachers would ask the students to put them back to their original places. But students never heard of animal experiments used for testing toiletries. They also knew little about the use of animals in scientific research. This shows that our system of education has not done enough to teach students to respect lives. Our purpose in this elective course on life ethics is to make students know more about various advances in science in a holistic manner.
In my class, I offered some films and reports to make students know the cruel facts that animals were experiencing. This lead them to use their own knowledge of social science to