China can take sexy protests, PETA says
Sunday, 24 August 2008

Beijing,Aug 22 (Reuters Life!) - Even in China, a country where provocative campaigns are the exception to the rule, animal rights activists PETA says there's scope for edgy, sexy stunts.

Pictures of naked activists crouching in cages to protest animal rights issues are almost passe in the West, but Chinese authorities prevented Olympian swimmer and PETA supporter Amanda Beard from holding an anti-fur news conference two days before the Games began.
 
But security guards did allow Beard to unveil to media gathered outside the athletes' village a demure nude photograph of herself, urging women "Don't wear fur".
 
Jason Baker, Asia-Pacific director for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, talked to Reuters about the subtleties of demonstrating in China.
 
Q: What did you expect from Beard's protest?
 
A: Demonstrations don't work as well in China as they do in Western countries.... (but) since Amanda is an Olympian, the media was interested in her actions and her anti-fur message. The government may have tried to stop our ad launch but the local media didn't find it to be something they needed to censor.
 
Q: What's PETA's policy on unauthorised protests?
 
A: It's easier and more effective to do things that don't require authorization. We don't really need a permit to dress in lettuce outfits and hand out information explaining why a vegetarian diet is healthy, humane, and better for the environment.
 
Q: So edgy campaigns can be effective, even in countries unaccustomed to your approach?
 
A: While PETA is often seen as pushing the envelope in China, we have found that sexy and progressive campaigns do have a place in the country. PETA's ad against fur starring a nearly naked Pamela Anderson was rejected in Beijing, for example, but it was eventually approved in Shanghai and went up in train stations and bus stops around the city.
 
Q: But cultural differences remain?
 
A: It's very important for PETA that our events and activities be covered in China. We still campaign like PETA but in ways that also work in the country. That's why you don't see some of the more shocking things we've done in the West being done in China. We don't need it and it wouldn't be accepted.
 
Q: What other successes have you had?
 
A: Our undercover footage showing animals being skinned alive on fur farms in China -- which is now the world's largest fur exporter -- has even been shown on national television in China which is a great success for our campaign.
 
Q: Which region is it toughest for you to operate in?
 
A: We have to campaign differently in Singapore, Vietnam, and China. We hold eye-catching demonstrations to promote vegetarianism and to encourage people to choose alternatives to fur. We have had some success but it's easier in places like Japan, Hong Kong and India.

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