China to Crack Down on Live-Pig Burials After Welfare Protests

(Bloomberg) -- China vowed to crack down on individuals burying pigs alive to contain a deadly swine epidemic, saying it will hunt down perpetrators amid protests from international animal welfare groups.

Images and footage showing the illegal disposal of pigs have been broadcast multiple times on the Internet. A Twitter post Friday shows pigs being thrown backwards into a steep ditch crammed with dozens of writhing hogs. Voices of people speaking in Mandarin are barely audible in the minute-long video, which has been viewed almost 10,000 times.

The country, with half the world’s hogs, is struggling to contain a nine-month-long outbreak of African swine fever -- a contagious viral disease that kills most infected pigs within days but isn’t known to harm humans. Some 1.13 million pigs have been culled to control the contagion, which has spread to Mongolia, Vietnam and Cambodia, and plunging China’s $128 billion pork industry into crisis.

China bans the burial of live pigs, said Chen Guanghua, deputy chief of the animal husbandry and veterinary bureau with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Officials are trying to identify those responsible, he said in an interview in the eastern city of Wuhan, where he addressed a hog industry conference.

The ministry has received notification of the practice from international organizations, he said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.