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March 14, 2011

HSI's Partners in China Launch Nationwide Campaign Against Canadian Seal Trade

Humane Society International

  • A baby “seal” singing for help from the musical “Seals the Precious.” HSI

  • Chinese national CCTV host Zhang Yue addressing the audience. HSI

  • Professor Zhang Lida conducting Choir for Life at the event. HSI

  • A poster with the message “Chinese people do not welcome Canadian seal products” in the hallway at the event. HSI

by Peter Li

On March 13, 2011, HSI’s Chinese partners jointly announced the start of a nationwide campaign against Canadian seal trade to an audience of more than 300 people. The event held to mark the occasion coincided with the annual session of China’s National People’s Congress, which had just accepted two legislative proposals to ban Canadian seal product imports. It drew reporters from 14 local and national media outlets, animal advocates from around the country, students from some of China’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning (including the Central Conservatory of Music and the Media University), and, most importantly, trade officials directly or indirectly involved in an earlier trade talk related to seal product trade.

Beauty and brutality

HSI was a strong supporter of this event, where Chinese advocates, officials, and celebrities answered questions from the reporters and audience about Canada’s brutality to seals, China’s role in ending seal slaughter and Chinese consumers’ responsibility to stay away from seal products. The highlight was the debut of a musical called “Seals the Precious,” written and composed by Zhang Lida, a Central Conservatory of Music professor, along with the reading of an appeal from baby seals to humans, and the soul-stirring performance of the Choir for Life. In particular, HSI’s seven-minute video of seals being killed stunned viewers. “There were a lot of wet eyes in the audience,” said Zhang Dan, the chair of the event organizing committee.

Spreading the message

Beijing’s biggest English-language newspaper, The Global Times, published photos of the event, and more reports on it are expected to appear in the media in the coming days. Advocates in 12 Chinese provinces are ready to take action for seals in 2011. In February, for example, HSI's partner in Xiamen conducted a public education campaign among the city’s elementary and secondary schools. A few days earlier, 56 Chinese animal protection groups sent an open letter to Canadian Ambassador to China David Mulroney asking him to urge the Canadian government and sealing industry to drop the idea of dumping cruel products on Chinese consumers. The same letter was faxed to all the Canadian offices in other Chinese cities.

On March 15, the International Day of Action for Seals, an event targeting Beijing’s business elite will be held in one of the city's pubs. More events are being planned to reach out to Chinese businesses and importers to convince them to quit selling the products of seals' suffering.

Dr. Peter Li is HSI's China Specialist.