July 14, 2011
U.S. Company Sponsoring Rodeo Faces Strong Opposition in China
Foreign companies are usually welcomed in China’s era of economic modernization—but not in every instance. Sixty-eight animal protection NGOs across China are planning to hold a press conference on July 15 to call on the Chinese government to cancel planned rodeo shows set for October 3 and 11 at Beijing’s Olympic Stadium, the now-famous Bird’s Nest. The American company ZZYX Entertainment is one of the two US sponsors of this eight-day event, with prize money reportedly of $USD 8 million. The target audience for the event is 20 million people worldwide.
As soon as “Rodeo China” was announced in April, Chinese advocates mobilized to challenge what was being cast as a “cultural exchange program” between China and the U.S. The American sponsors, ZZYX Entertainment and Less is Forever More, have from the very beginning packaged rodeos as “American West culture,” “the daily life of cowboys,” and a popular American sport. They apparently have stated that rodeos follow humane rules and no animals have ever been injured or killed in them. In his meeting with Chinese activists on July 12, the chief executive of ZZYX is even said to have claimed that The Humane Society of the United States is not opposed to rodeos. Outrageously, he also proposed to the Chinese sponsors that he would bring 100 American children to Beijing to be part of the “Rodeo China” shows.
Chinese advocates have been engaged in three rounds of talks with the Chinese and U.S. sponsors to demand the cancellation of “Rodeo China.” The Chinese side views the introduction of rodeo to China as running counter to the progress being made in the country against animal cruelty. And by inviting 100 American children to the rodeo shows in Beijing, the U.S. sponsors would be sending a hugely negative message to children around the world. Humane Society International plans to assist the Chinese organizations in their efforts to stop rodeo shows from going forward, consistent with the official policy of The Humane Society of the United States on rodeos:
The HSUS opposes rodeos as they are commonly organized, since they typically cause torment and stress to animals; expose them to pain, injury, or even death; and encourage an insensitivity to and acceptance of the inhumane treatment of animals in the name of sport. Accordingly, we oppose the use of devices such as electric prods, sharpened sticks, spurs, flank straps, and other rodeo equipment that cause animals to react violently, and we oppose bull riding, bronco riding, steer roping, calf roping, "wild horse racing," chuck wagon racing, steer tailing, and horse tripping.
Dr. Peter Li is China Specialist for HSI.