Chinese regulations and liability
Under the Postal Law of the People’s Republic of China (2009), and the Implementing Regulations of the Postal Law, it is clear that all living animals cannot be sent or carried in the mail. (Article 33(6) of the Implementing Regulation of the Postal Law). Article 75 of the Postal Law regulates the liability of delivery of the prohibited items for both the users, and the postal/courier company, but the law does not specify the related responsibilities for mailing living animals. On the other hand, the enforcement is relatively weak as the prohibition is stated in the regulation instead of in the law. In this situation, mailing living animals is a violation of Postal Law but without specific punishment under this law.
Provisional Regulations on Express Delivery (2018) stipulates the rules for express delivery of the violation of the prohibited items according to the Postal Law Article 24, but there is no specific provision on mailing living animals.
Under the Law of Animal Epidemic Prevention (2021), the rules for cats and dogs are not regulated at a national level. Dog breeders shall register at the local registration authority with the immunization certificate of rabies, and specific measures for the prevention and management of breeding dogs shall be formulated by provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government. (Article 30) The transportation of animals is covered by Chapter 5 Quarantine of animals and animal products. The law requires a quarantine certificate and the carrier for filing. The liabilities for violation of these rules are stipulated in Articles 97, 98, 100, 101, and 102. This law sets the provisions for transportation of all animals, but there are no specific rules for companion animals except for Article 30 (Local Rules). This law does not cover mailing living animals, and whether the mailing living animal can be considered as transportation is unclear under this law.
The Biosafety Law (2020) has the general statement of “no unit or individual shall endanger biological safety” and the right to report provision in Article 8. The state protects wild animals, strengthens animal epidemic prevention, and prevents the spread of animal-borne infectious diseases. (Article 32). The Biosafety Law has regulations on transportation of “rare, endangered, endemic species” and shipping and mailing from abroad. Although the general provision may apply to the situation, the shipping and mailing of other animals inside China is not covered by this law.
Under the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Law (2004), The infectious diseases prescribed by this law are divided into categories A, B, and C, and plague is listed in category A, rabies in category B. (Article 3). Zoonotic disease control is regulated in Article 25 and wild animals, livestock, and poultry can only be sold and transported after passing the quarantine. (Article 25.2) The administrative penalty of selling and transporting wild animals, livestock, and poultry without quarantine is covered in Article 75. However, selling and transporting domestic animals are not covered by either Article 25.2 or Article 75. Article 77 provides a general provision of civil liability for leading to the spread and epidemic of infectious diseases when causing damage to the person or property of others.
Pets as “products” or “personal property” can be protected under the Product Quality Law and Consumer Interests Protection Law. But there is no specific regulation on living animals. There is no animal welfare law or anti-cruelty law in mainland China, which makes it harder to protect the animals.
According to the analysis above, we can find that it is illegal to mail living animals (Postal Law) or transport animals without proper procedure and immune certification (Law of Animal Epidemic Prevention). The administrative liabilities are under the discretion of the administrative agency. It is difficult to pursue other legal responsibilities as the law does not specify in the area of protection of living companion animals. On the contrary, with the help of the general principles or provisions of Biosafety Law, Product Quality Law, and Consumer Interests Protection Law, there might be other ways to solve the problems.