China: Online Protest Against the Bear Bile Business

Since early 2011, Gui Zhentang, China's largest bear bile medicine producer, has been trying to apply for stock market launch on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Last year, the application was turned down as a result of netizens’ protests.

This year, the company tried to mobilize public support by securing the support of the Association of Chinese Traditional Medicine, which accused animal rights activists of conspiring to western imperialism. Currently, netizens continue to protest against bear bile harvest business and 96% of public opinion is against the further expansion of bear farming in China.

If Gui Zhentang manage to obtain new capital by being listed in the stock market, they will expand the number of bears living in torture from 400 to 1,200. China Bubble Watch has more background about bear farming industry in China:

Bear bile is considered a precious ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite the fact that there are already synthetic alternatives that prove to have the same medical effects as bear bile, companies like Gui Zhentang still kept moon bears (an endangered species in cages, cut a hole in their stomach and stick a tube into their gall bladder to drain bile from them everyday. NGOs like Animal Asia and End Bear Farm have detailed documentation of such cruel practices on their websites.

Bear farming is a huge and highly profitable industry in China, there are 68 registered bear farms, more than 20,000 caged bears, which provide ingredients to 153 kinds of traditional medicines that are being produced by 186 pharmaceutical companies (according to a report by China Business Network).

In order to counter public opinion against their cruel business, Gui Zhentang has secured support form the Association of Chinese Traditional Medicine, which on February 7, 2012, issued a letter asking media outlets to censor negative information about Chinese medicine:

The Chinese Traditional Medicine Association's letter to media outlets via Sina Weibo user Nancy

The Chinese Traditional Medicine Association's letter to media outlets via Sina Weibo user Nancy

To oppose Western interests from promoting inappropriate competition behavior and continue the Traditional Chinese Medicine legacy by developing farming businesses so as to protect people's medical needs, the Association of Chinese Traditional Medicine urges the following:

1. Strengthen the objective and positive image of the Chinese medicine industry by promoting the achievement of Chinese Traditional Medicine and businesses, such as Moon Bear bile harvest. By means of technology intervention and active promotion, help the public to develop a sense of pride in Chinese Traditional Medicine and legacy.

2. Optimize information by deleting and screening out that which misleads and portrays a negative image of  the Chinese Traditional Medicine industry. Attack those opinions that are misleading and untrue.

Sina Weibo user Nancy is outraged [zh] by the statement:


This is not an association, this is a gangster group! Using technological means to promote the bear bile harvest business? Shamelessly asking the media to screen out and delete voices against the torturing of Moon Bears. To so publicly advocate such kinds of illegitimate means. Their attitude is the same as Gui Zhentang, which claims that whosoever opposes the company is against the nation.

Soon after the news about Gui Zhentang's IPO application came out, netizens launched a series of online and offline campaign against the application and expansion of such businesses. Blogger Don't eat friends has posted [zh] the protest photos in the Sina Weibo forum to raise public awareness.

Poster on the Sina Environmental Protection Poll

Sina Environmental Protection launched an online poll [zh] about Gui Zhentang's stock market application on February 9, which so far has gathered more than 12,081 participants, 96% against the company's expansion. Below are some typical responses to the the bear farming business under the poll's comment thread:

过冬河蟹 :坚决反对。人性泯灭丧尽天良。凌迟处死也就一炷香的工夫。这样虐十年,tmd下手的人晚上怎么睡得着。(2月11日 4:06)

过冬河蟹 :I strongly oppose. This is so inhumane. It only takes an hour to cut a living creature into pieces. The torturing of Moon Bears [for bile] lasts for 10 years. How can they even sleep at night? (Feb 11 4:06)

不想开学滴某丶西 :怎么归真堂的高层领导们不也关在小笼子里每天和熊住在一块,熊抽一次胆汁可爱的领导们也抽一次,你们能挺多久公司就上市多久。多好,公平交易。(2月10日 20:10)

不想开学滴某丶西 :Why not cage the leader of Gui Zhentang with the bears in the small cages. Whenever bile is extracted from the bears, let's extract the leader's bile as well. For how long you can stand such torture, for how long can the company be listed in the stock market. (Feb 10 20:10)

吉思教育 :活取熊胆,惨无人道,这样的企业如果也能上市,中国的良心何在!(2月10日 14:16)

吉思教育 :Extracting bile from living bears, this is the most inhumane practice in the world. If some kind of companies can be listed in stock market, China will lose its conscience totally. (Feb 10 14:16)

小荷恬恬 :反对!!!我们不能因为一己之利而残杀无辜的动物!熊胆就像鱼翅,完全可以用别的东西代替,为什么还要破坏这个已经千疮百孔的大自然呢?!(2月10日 10:34)

小荷恬恬 :I oppose!!! We cannot treat animals like that because of self-interest. Bear bile is like shark fins, you can substitute them with other substances. Why do we need to destroy our fragile nature? (Feb 10 10:34)

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