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Parliamentary questions
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4 February 2011
E-000698/2011
Question for written answer E-000698/2011
to the Commission
Rule 117
Sonia Alfano (ALDE) , Peter Skinner (S&D) , Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE) , Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL) , Charles Tannock (ECR) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE)

 Subject: Bear farms, animal legislation in China and EU engagement
 Answer in writing 

In countries across Asia, thousands of bears live a life of torture on bear farms so that their bile can be extracted and used in traditional medicine to cure several ailments despite the availability of herbal and synthetic alternatives. On 16 November 2010, an interesting hearing was held at the European Parliament on ‘Bear farming, animal cruelty and the development of animal protection in China’. It was attended by the Animals Asia Foundation (an animal welfare NGO whose representatives have been working in the Asian region since 1985 to promote animal welfare), the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Sichuan Forestry Administration.

During the workshop, there was acknowledgement of the efforts and commitment of the Chinese authorities to pursue policies for the recognition of animal rights, as evidenced by the drafting of the first anti-cruelty legislation, the ban on animal performances in Chinese zoos and safari parks, the authorities' commitment to responsible dog management and a landmark agreement signed with the Animals Asia Foundation on the release of the first group of 500 moon bears and on working together towards ending bear farming. It is obvious that, both in China and in other parts of Asia, much work remains to be done.

Given that Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that, through their policies, the EU and the Member States must, ‘since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals’, will the Commission:

1. say whether it regards it as appropriate to enter into a commitment within the Union, and in its relations with China, to provide assistance, support and encouragement for the Chinese Government to establish policies, laws and regulations to improve animal welfare?
2. say whether it regards it as appropriate to enter into a commitment within the Union, and in its relations with China, to provide assistance, support and encouragement in implementing the commitments on ending bear farming in China and working with the Chinese Government on drafting a roadmap that, over time, will bring help to as many as possible of the individual bears currently kept on bear farms before they are closed?
3. say how and under what timetable it intends to meet its commitments?
4. say what initiatives it intends to put forward in order to combat the illegal trafficking of products containing bear bile?

 OJ C 286 E, 30/09/2011
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