Given recent violence and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)  community in the United States, we want to take a moment to say that Lady Freethinker stands in solidarity with Asian Americans and recognizes their important contributions to the animal rights movement.

Although protections for nonhuman animals are still slowly evolving in China, South Korea, and other parts of Asia, a growing number of Asians — both abroad and in the United States — are speaking out and standing up for better treatment and welfare standards for animals.

Here are five of the biggest names for animal welfare from within the Asian community, with our gratitude for all they are doing for animals everywhere.

  1. Yu Kewei: The Chinese pop star singer recently took a stance against the dog meat trade when she photographed a truck loaded with dogs headed to slaughter in the Guangxi province.  She posted the video to Weibo — the equivalent of Twitter — where she has 500,000 followers. The message got to police, although the truck already had passed outside of their jurisdiction.


  1. Ai WeiWei: The artist and human rights activist has been a staunch supporter for strengthening animal welfare protections in China, announcing at the first International Animal Welfare Summit, hosted by animal welfare group Four Paws in Austria, that “animals have been victims of humans for too long.”  San Hua, a documentary about the cat meat industry in China written and directed by filmmaker Guo Ke, was produced by the Ai WeiWei Workshop. 


  1. Sun Li: The star of Painted Skin and Iron Road has denounced bear bile farms — where live bears have bile extracted from their livers for products believed to be “medicinal.” She also connected with PETA-Asia to speak out against fur and made sure all costumes she wore during filming were fully synthetic. 


  1. Yao Ming: The former NBA star became a wildlife ambassador with WildAid in 2006. He recently toured Kenya to help film the anti-poaching document “The End of Wild” to raise awareness about the slaughter of elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns. He’s appeared in numerous ads, TV announcements, and billboard messages to raise awareness about the slaughter of wild animals in the illegal wildlife trade and also condemned the killing of sharks for shark fin soup. WildAid also credits Yao Ming as being an instrumental contributor to China’s 2017 ivory ban. 


  1. Jackie Chan. The martial arts master adopted his two Golden Retrievers, JJ and Jones, and also partnered with the World Society for the Protection of Animals and PETA-Asia to encourage people to adopt animals, rather than “shop” for them. An ambassador for WildAid, he also has spoken out against the wildlife trade and killing sharks for shark fin soup. He’s also used his celebrity status to denounce the bear bile industry in China. “I want people to concentrate,” Chan told the Guardian. “You’re hurting animals, yourself. With education, people will understand. Everyone has a good heart.”