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The Truth on the So-called "wet markets" in China

2020-05-12 14:07

Allegation 11: China is reopening wildlife markets. It should immediately close all “wet markets”.The Chinese contracted the novel coronavirus while eating bats.

Reality Check: There are no so-called “wildlife wet markets” in China. China has passed legislation banning all illegal hunting and trade of wild animals. Bats are never part of the Chinese diet.

◆ On 24 February 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China adopted a decision on thoroughly banning illegal wildlife trade and eliminating consumption of wild animals to safeguard people’s lives and health. This has further established the regime of complete prohibition of hunting, trading and transportation of terrestrial wild animals for the purpose of consumption. The legislative decision was welcomed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).


◆ Selling wild animals is illegal in China. Such an act will be immediately stopped once discovered, and will be punished in accordance with law.

◆ There are no so-called “wildlife wet markets” in China. And in fact, China does not even have the concept of “wet markets”. What we have in China are farmers’ markets and live poultry and seafood markets. They sell fresh fish, meat, vegetables, seafood and other farm produce. A few of them sell live poultry. Basically, they are no different from the fish markets or fruit and vegetables markets in Western countries. Such markets exist not only in China, but also in many other countries. They are an important part of local life. No international law restricts the opening or operation of such markets. What were reopened in Wuhan are these traditional farmers’ markets.

◆ Research has shown extremely low homology between COVID-19 and the known coronaviruses in livestock and poultry. Based on such scientific understanding and taking into account people’s need for live poultry and seafood products, China has allowed the reopening of such markets in places where sound containment measures are in place as a prerequisite. China attaches high importance to epidemic prevention. As safeguards, competent authorities and sub-national governments have taken a host of stringent measures to strengthen the management of such markets. Sub-national governments, market operators and vendors are required to earnestly fulfill their respective responsibilities and ensure that strict anti-epidemic protocols are duly enforced in these markets. Relevant authorities will also, in accordance with China’s law on animal epidemic prevention, perform quarantine and checkup on live poultry and seafood products, and rigorously implement all prevention and control measures against animal epidemics. Given the current situation in Wuhan, Hubei, the Huanan seafood market remains closed.

◆ The Internet video clip in which a Chinese female tour guide drinks bat soup was part of a travel promotion show filmed by her team on a small Pacific island in 2016 and was posted online that year. Bat soup was a local specialty.

◆Bats are never part of the Chinese dishes. Wuhan Huanan seafood market, where cluster cases were identified in the early days of the epidemic, does not sell bats.

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