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McCartney slams China over fur trade

Sir Paul McCartney

"We have no plans to clamp down on this internally that I am aware of - it is for the US and Europeans to take their own action."
- Spokesman for the Chinese Embassy, London

"This is a ruse by campaigners to attack the legitimate fur trade. Nobody has ever found a large amount of cat and dog fur in the UK."
- Pro-fur campaigner Richard D North

SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY has vowed never to perform in China after seeing horrific undercover footage of dogs and cats being killed for their fur.

The former Beatle also said he would boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics after viewing the footage taken in a fur market in Guangzhou, southern China.

The graphic film shows animals being thrown from a bus, and into boiling water.

In a display of tortuous bureaucratic logic, a Chinese official said blamed US and European consumers for buying the fur, rather than condemn the actual production of the fur and declared that boycotts were not justified.

The film shows dogs and cats packed by the dozen into wire cages little bigger than lobster pots and shows them being thrown from the top deck of a converted bus onto concrete pavements.

The screaming animals, many with their paws now smashed from the fall, are then lifted out with long metal tongs and thrown over a seven-foot fence. Some are senselessly beaten by laughing and smiling workers.

All are then killed and skinned for their fur - many are believed still to be alive as their skins are peeled away.

Sir Paul, and his wife Heather, looked aghast and close to tears as they watched the footage for a special report for the BBC's Six O'clock News which was screened on Monday of this week. The couple urged people not to buy Chinese goods.

"This is barbaric. Horrific," said Sir Paul. "It's like something out of the dark ages. And they seem to get a kick out it. They're just sick, sick people.

"I wouldn't even dream of going over there to play, in the same way I wouldn't go to a country that supported apartheid. This is just disgusting. It's just against every rule of humanity. I couldn't go there."

In another piece of the harrowing footage, shot this summer by an undercover investigator connected to the People for the Ethical treatment of Animals (PETA) campaign group, cats are seen squirming inside a sack which is then thrown into a vat of steaming water.

The cats are boiled to death and skinned by a fleecing machine similar to a launderette tumble drier.

Campaigners estimate that over two million dogs and cats are killed for their fur in China every year. China also farms animals such as mink for their fur and makes over half of the world's fur products.

McCartney added: "How can the host nation of the Olympics be seen allowing animals to be treated in this terrible way?"

Heather McCartney, herself a vociferous animal rights campaigner added: "I've seen so much footage where these poor creatures are clearly alive when they're skinned. And for what? For fashion? It's sick. People in every other country in the world should now boycott Chinese goods."

Sir Paul added: "If they want to consider themselves a civilized nation, they're going to have to stop this."

A spokesman for the Chinese Ambassador in London said: "Though cats and dogs are not endangered, we do not encourage the ill treatment of cats and dogs. But, anyway, the fur trade mostly feeds markets in the US and Europe. This fur is not consumed in China. So the Americans and Europeans should accept the blame."

The spokesman’s arrogant tirade continued: "We have no plans to clamp down on this internally that I am aware of - it is for the US and Europeans to take their own action. They should boycott fur as a fashion material. I do not agree with Mr McCartney and his wife's point of view - a boycott of Chinese goods and the Olympics is simply not justifiable."

It is not currently illegal to trade in dog and cat fur in the UK and most of Europe. The British government sees any legislation as being a European issue - as once the fur enters Europe from China, free trade and the difficulty of identifying the fur makes it almost impossible to police.

A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry commented: "The government shares the ethical abhorrence felt by many. That is why it banned by statute fur farming in the UK in 2000.

"Action is best taken at the EU level as a harmonised approach throughout the EU would have greater impact and avoid obstacles to the operation of the single market."

There is little evidence, as yet, of the fur products being sold in the UK. Campaigners insist they are available up and down the country, but it is impossible to tell the difference from other fur without the aid of expensive genetic tests.

The British Fur Trade Association, which represents the booming fur industry in the UK, insists that its members do not knowingly use dog and cat fur and have introduced a fur labelling system to try to guard against its use.

"As an industry, we are against any form of animal cruelty," said a spokeswoman. "We deplore and work against the mistreatment of animals. For this reason, we also actively support and encourage the adoption of Western fur farming practices on Chinese fur farms."

Pro-fur campaigner Richard D North says a European ban is heavy handed. "This is a ruse by campaigners to attack the legitimate fur trade. Nobody has ever found a large amount of cat and dog fur in the UK," said Mr North. "The European fur industry would never use it. Why bother, when there are lovely skins from properly farmed animals?"

Euro MP Struan Stevenson has an array of cat and dog products in his Brussels office - including a coat made from the skin of German Shepherds, a pelt made from four Golden Retrievers and a blanket made from around 70 cats. All were bought in Europe.

"It's cheaper to make these things from cat and dog than it is to make synthetic fur," he explained in the film. "It really is time for this trade to be banned and the EU border to be sealed against it. And the new trade commissioner is more than sympathetic."

Markos Kyprianou, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, is responsible for this area of EU law.

His spokesman, Phillip Todd said: "As a human being, the commissioner abhors this trade and is very supportive of there being a ban. There are, however, legal obstacles which would need to be addressed before a ban could be put in place."

To register your protest against Chinese fur farming practices and the Chinese fur trade, write to: The Chinese Ambassador: Zha Peixi, Embassy Of The People's Republic Of China, 49-51 Portland Place London W1B 1JL. Tel: 020-994024, 020-72994021 Fax: 020-76370399 Website: www.

* To urge the EU to take action against the fur trade, e-mail Markos Kyprianou, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection at: