A recent move by the government stock watchdog to boost securities transparency by releasing a full list of applicants for initial public offerings (IPOs) has unexpectedly sparked public outcry over a medicine company that profits by selling bear bile.
Guizhentang, a pharmaceutical company that produces traditional Chinese medicine containing bear bile, has roiled the public after being spotted on an IPO application list published by China’s securities regulator earlier this month.
The company, based in Fujian Province, harvests and processes bear bile for medicinal powders, capsules and other products. The company owns the largest black bear breeding center in southern China.
Internet users and animal lovers have accused Guizhentang of animal cruelty for extracting the bile from live bears, despite the company’s claims that it uses humane, “no tube” drainage methods.
Guizhentang plans to use capital raised by the IPO to expand its annual output of bear bile powder to 4,000 kg, as well as to increase its breeding center’s bear population from 400 to 1,200, according to Yu Jichun, the producer of a wildlife program on Yunnan TV network.
“If it really goes public, this year will mark doomsday for those bears,” Yu said, posting a video depicting the bloody bile-milking process on Sina Weibo.
Yu’s microblog post has been reposted more than 8,000 times, and thousands of Weibo users have joined him in bashing the company and opposing its listing.
This isn’t the first time Guizhentang has faced a backlash over an IPO effort.
Last February, the company also became the target of online anger after local media reported it was planning to go public.
A British-based NGO, Animals Asia, headed the online protest and wrote to the Fujian branch of China’s securities regulator to throttle the listing.
Under China’s current IPO rules, after submitting an application, companies typically need to wait six months for authorities to approve the listing. But the process can be prolonged, depending on application quality and market conditions.