The Chinese government has delisted dogs as “livestock” after the outbreak of COVID-19 sparked a global backlash over China’s health standards.
China’s agricultural ministry put out a notice on Wednesday that dogs are being reclassified as pets, according to a translation of the document by Quartz. The government also noted that the new classification is more in line with global norms.
“Alongside the development of human civilization and the public’s care toward protecting animals, dogs have now evolved from being traditional livestock to companion animals,” the notice said.
China banned marketing and eating exotic animals in late February months after the outbreak of COVID-19, which likely originated in a wet market where such animals are sold. Beijing said animals classified as “livestock” could still be consumed. At the time, dogs, deer, and more traditional farm animals such as cattle and pigs were included on the list.
In early April, the Chinese city of Shenzhen took the government’s decree a step further, announcing a ban on eating dogs and cats that is expected to take effect May 1.
The steps taken by the Chinese government to clamp down on exotic animal consumption are reminiscent of a similar ban Beijing put in place in 2003 after the outbreak of another viral infection, SARS.
The government banned wild animals from meat markets in April of 2003, only to lift the ban several months later to “standardize and support the development of the industry of domesticating and breeding wild animals,” China’s forestry administration said at the time, according to The Wall Street Journal. Other Chinese officials talking to the newspaper anonymously said the government scrapped the ban because it was unenforceable.
China has attempted to repair the damage done to its image by the pandemic by gifting other countries thousands of units of medical supplies. Recipients later rejected most of the supplies after finding it defective and useless. The Chinese Communist Party has also ramped up its global propaganda machine to spread misinformation about Chinese efforts to combat COVID-19.
President Trump and other world leaders have called out China for its lax health standards, especially concerning the wet markets that have spawned several global health crises. Backlash is building against China and the Chinese Communist Party, which controls the government.
As The Daily Wire reported, Japan has set aside $2 billion to pay factories to move their supply chains out of China. In the United States, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) are pushing a bill that would bar the federal government doing business with pharmaceutical companies that source medications or ingredients from China.
Cotton has called for a global referendum on China after the coronavirus is contained.
“Things like antibiotics and ibuprofen and Advil are made in China for the most part. It’s time to bring that manufacturing capacity back to the United States, time to bring a lot more back to the United States from China. China unleashed this plague on the world, and there will be a reckoning when we’re on the back side of it,” Cotton said in a March 25 Fox News interview.