It has long been taken for granted that what makes developed countries, like China unjust and cruel is the poverty and lack of education. With time, this theory goes, increased wealth and education will make the Chinese more responsive and accountable for the pain of others.
In reality, the flood of wealth sweeping China’s better-off cities has done nothing to raise the moral standard of behaviour towards not just humans but animals too:
‘The darker side of having disposable income is that wealthy Chinese are also patronizing more restaurants that openly serve cat and dog meat–often as a specialty.
Very graphic photos in the June 26 Daily Mail make it painfully clear that dog-meat eating in China is common, popular and it is not likely to stop in the near future.
The photos of cages filled with dogs waiting to be killed, chopped up and served to diners in high-end restaurants in dishes ranging from soup to steaks, and the obvious pleasure on the faces of the diners is very disturbing. Although some restaurant owners emphatically deny it, there have been wide admissions by those involved in transport that many of the dogs are pets picked up from the streets.’
There are graphic pictures to go with that story which I made a decision not to publish.
What’s most unsettling is that the increased income in this case appears to facilitate more cruelty, not combat it.
As China becomes a more prominent player on the world stage and opens up to the world, expect to hear more about the way the weak are (mis)treated in prisons, in the countryside and yes, to satisfy the appetites of the rich.
We are ignoring the West’s legacy of moral justice and social welfare at our peril. Expecting the wealth alone to ‘civilise’ China is a delusion for which we will pay dearly.