It must have been a brutal scene. In late July, fearing the spread of rabies after 2,375 deaths nationwide last year, authorities in Mouding County in Southwest China ordered that all of the 50,000-plus dogs in the area be killed. It took five days for teams of men wielding poles and pitchforks to finish the bloody job. Then, a few days later, a similar order was issued to kill all dogs within 3 miles of a rabies outbreak in Jining, a city which holdsâheldâan estimated 500,000 dogs. Similar culls are planned other areas of China, which is second only to India in rabies cases. Only 3% of the millions of dogs there have been vaccinated against the disease.
Certainly, this was a cruel and crude way to prevent rabies, for the canines themselves as well as their owners, who were given 1.30 for each dog as compensation. Other nations have controlled the disease with vaccines, including bait containing vaccines for woodland creatures. But in a country as populated and poor as China, more humane solutions may be prohibitively expensive. On the other hand, the people determining these policies could also just be heartless pricks.
The outraged response from Americans was immediate. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals cancelled 300,000 in orders for merchandise from Chinese manufacturers, and called for a boycott of Chinese products, which at this point, lets face it, would leave very few products left to buy. The US Humane Society offered 100,000 to vaccinate dogs if China would cease the slaughter. MSNBCs Tucker Carlson called it disgusting, and even went as far as to support PETAs actions, something akin in conservative circles to giving Al Gore a kiss on the mouth.
The consensus seems to be bipartisan and unanimousâcanine genocide is wrong. I wouldnt have a problem with that, except for one thing: China kills people, too. It kills them for speaking out against the government, or simply for practicing the wrong religion. And its obviously not alone in this. But China, efficient if nothing else, kills them in the most horrifyingly exploitative way imaginable, and nobody seems to know or care. Call me crazy, but that seems like the bigger story to me.
Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline, similar to the outsider to Buddhism or Taoism, with an emphasis on meditation exercises and mind and body cultivation. There are a couple of troubling details, including a prediction of the end of civilization and the homophobia traditional to most religions. Introduced by Li Hongzhi in 1992, the practice grew in popularity, irking the obsessively-controlling Chinese government until, in 1999, with estimates of followers at about 70 million, Falun Gong was banned and a ruthless campaign of suppression began. At least a hundred thousand have been arrested and sent to labor camps without trial, and some reports allege there are as many as 36 such camps, the largest holding over 120,000. Thousands more have been confirmed as dead or sent to prison for lengthy sentences. There are 44,000 documented reports of vicious, repetitive torture, most of which make Abu Ghraib look like a pillow fight.
None of this is much of a surprise, considering the brutally oppressive history of the Peoples Republic. But allegations have surfaced which would cause even the most jaded observer to blanch: charges that these detainees are being killed for spare parts. Thats right: organs, tissues, and bones being harvested from living prisoners, and sold for a huge profit, or so the Falun Gong exiles claim. Hard to believe, even for a totalitarian regime, which is why I havent mentioned it before. But a recent study backs up this incredible story.