The development of animal welfare science in China: An explorative analysis

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This paper presents results of a search and analysis of research projects on animal welfare registered in the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) database in the period 1996–2019, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of developments in animal welfare science in China. The title-abstract search of publications in this database resulted in over 260 articles that could be linked to 200 research projects with an animal welfare component. These projects were analysed for: (a) involved academic disciplines; (b) studied animal species; (c) contexts of animal use; (d) concepts of animal welfare; and (e) attention to ethical dimensions of animal welfare. The analysis shows an increased attention to animal welfare science, with a particular focus on farm and laboratory animals. We observed an increase in the number of studies and of animal species studied. The majority of research projects start in or include a view of animal welfare that is close to Fraser’s ‘biological function’ view. We conclude that the increased attention to animal welfare in science reflects recent developments in China in terms of public concern about animal use, academic debate about the importance of animal welfare, and animal-related political and economic developments linked to China’s ambitions to be a global player in science and food production. For the further development of animal welfare science in China stable funding and more interdisciplinary collaboration are necessary to study and publish on fundamental aspects of animal welfare, on issues not directly related to applied problems, and on the ethical dimensions of animal welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere72
Pages (from-to)1-8
JournalAnimal Welfare
Early online dateOct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • animal welfare
  • China
  • ethics
  • laboratory animals
  • livestock
  • public concerns


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