In February 2012 the planned public listing plans of Fujian’s Rui Zhen Tang (归真堂), a supplier of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), drew criticism over the company’s sale of bear bile, a valued Chinese medicinal fluid produced in the livers of Asiatic black bears, which are kept in captivity for “bile milking.” Addressing a backlash over this practice on China’s internet and in the media, the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine held a press conference on February 16. The association said that procedures used today for bile milking from live bears were painless and did not harm the health of bears. At the press conference, the head of the association, Fang Shuting (房书亭), said: “The bile milking process is just as simple as turning on the water tap. It’s natural and painless, and after it’s finished the bear can go off and play happily. I don’t feel there’s anything unusual about it. You could even say it’s comfortable!” In this cartoon, posted by artist Shang Haichun (商海春) to his blog at, a distressed bear looks on as a doctor in white scrubs holds a bowl under a tap protruding from the bear’s middle and bleeding at the point of entry.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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