December 3, 2019
Guest Pei Su, ACTAsia
Hosted by Jamie Harris, Sentience Institute
Pei Su of ACTAsia on humane education in China.
We welcome the Chinese government's policy on the various other nonprofit organizations that they support, and I think this is all a very positive development on the ground… [But] to reduce meat consumption is probably one of the hardest issues… The challenge we are facing today is that most of the Chinese majority don't understand animal welfare issues or rights issues.
ACTAsia is a humane education nonprofit based in China. But which intervention types are most tractable in the Chinese context? And what can other advocates do to assist the work there?
After interning for several animal advocacy organizations and working for World Animal Protection, Pei Su co-founded ACTAsia, where she is now Executive Director.
Topics discussed in the episode:
- ACTAsia's role in China (2:12)
- ACTAsia's Caring For Life program (10:27)
- The tractability of legislative and institutional change to benefit animals in China (18:13)
- Opportunities and responsibilities arising from new technologies like improved artificial intelligence (27:00)
- How animal advocates can ensure that they interact positively with the cultural and legal context in China (31:38)
- The quality of the candidates for leadership roles in animal advocacy organizations in China (37:00)
- Funding constraints and fundraising difficulties for ACTAsia (46:30)
- How talented individuals in the West can best help ACTAsia and Chinese animal advocacy organizations (52:05)
- How Chinese animal advocates can build experience (55:53)
- The use of for-profit experience compared to animal advocacy experience (1:00:02)
- ACTAsia’s expansion and interaction with advocates in other Asian countries (1:02:54)
Resources discussed in the episode:
Resources by or about ACTAsia:
Resources for using this podcast for a discussion group:
Transcript (Automated, imperfect)
Music: 00:00:07 [inaudible]
Jamie Harris: 00:00:13 welcome to the sentience Institute podcast where we interview advocates, entrepreneurs, and researchers to better understand the expansion of humanity's moral circle with a focus on expanding the circle to farmed animals on Jamie Harris, researcher at sentience Institute. Welcome to our second episode of the podcast on the first episode with Kevin Schneider of the nonhuman rights project. I briefly outline some of the strategies we're using to make this the most useful podcast. It can be. I won't reiterate those here, but do check out the episode if you're interested. I was excited to have Pei Su from act Asia for this episode of the podcast because ACTAsia seeks to alter attitudes to animals in China. There are a variety of methods including through education in schools is an interesting contrast to the public outreach methods of many Western animal advocacy organizations who often focus either on online campaigns or street outreach as well as running educational campaigns for school children, consumers and professionals ranging from vets to government officials.
Jamie Harris: 00:01:08 ACTAsia also engages in corporate outreach to retailers secure for free commitments. We were able to discuss issues of prioritization between these different interventions and other possible interventions for animal advocates in China. Finally, UN statistics show that China contains a huge proportion of the world's farmed animal population, including nearly half of the world's found pigs and over half of the world's farmed fish. So I was keen to speak to an advocate with in-depth knowledge, an experience of the situation there. On our website. We have a transcript of the episode as well as timestamps for particular topics. We also have suggested questions and resources that can be used to run an event around this podcast and your local animal advocacy or effective altruism group. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have questions about us and we would be happy to help. Our guest today is Pei Su, executive director for act Asia after earning her master's in sociology.
Jamie Harris: 00:01:56 Pei Su interned for several US animal advocacy groups and worked at world animal protection alongside an Asian veterinarian Pei co founded act Asia in 2006 welcome to the podcast Pei.
Pei Su: 00:02:07 Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to be able to talk on your show.
Jamie Harris: 00:02:12 You're very welcome. So at the world conference on farm animal welfare in 2017 the Chinese ministry of agriculture publicly acknowledged the concept of farmed animal welfare. According to a blog post about this by compassionate world farming, the Chinese vice minister of the ministry of agriculture said that promoting animal welfare has become not only an important choice for the green development of agriculture and a significant measure to ensure food safety and healthy consumption, but even more so an important embodiment of human caring in modern society. The Chinese traditional culture has always advocated the concept of raising and using animals with an attitude of love and appreciation. So my question is, what is ACTAsia doing to encourage these values of caring for animals, especially farmed animals?
Pei Su: 00:02:55 I setup ACTAsia back in 2006 together with an Asian veterinarian.
Pei Su: 00:03:01 And at a time we see the tremendous animal suffering and the treatment these animal have received in our society, including the country like China. And at the time we feel this is important, we set up our organization and to help the local animal groups or the grassroots groups they can grow and to learn how to tackle the issue in their own way and through their own culture. And so the issue of animals sufferings are not many rely on international support. And so we organizing various training sessions and bookshelf for the local groups. Um, for the first six years of ACTAsia, we focus out for them to learn what is anymore, where fair right issues, what is project management and how to conduct effective campaign and through this work. We were able to, uh, assumption that work or animal protection organization throughout China. We also, um, decided to put more, our resources was in China because, uh, ACTAsia's resources are limited.
Pei Su: 00:04:20 So we have been working in China in last 13 years, since 2006. Um, the, what was ACTAsia, um, is trying to, uh, make sure people in the society to understand human animal nature are or interrelated. And after we done the capacity building program, we felt it is really important we focus age occasion because you know, we need to tackle the longterm change. So we reposition more, uh, on our position, more focus on education program, um, to run consumers and professional and use these program to promote compassion and empathy and to allow, um, the people in Asian society or in China to understand the interdependency of all living beings in our, you know, world. And so we hope the next generation they can grow up to make the informed choice and this choice involve, less animal suffering as consumes or per meat or less [inaudible] all material which are, you know, tremendous burden in our planet and we have seed, the challenge we are facing today, particularly suit like issue of climate change.
Jamie Harris: 00:05:48 Okay. Brilliant. Well we can, we can kind of dip into some of the, the specific programs that ACTAsia runs and run through those in a bit more detail in a second. Just a of related though, slightly separate issue is the concern that the growing numbers of animals that are being raised for food in China. So statistics from the United nations food and agriculture organization show that per capita meat consumption has grown three fold since 1990 in China. Thankfully the government is interested in addressing this issue to the Chinese nutrition society, which I think is associated with the government has recommended a maximum meat intake of 75 grams per day, which is about half of the current average meat consumption in China. They also encourage any consumption of fish, poultry, eggs, or meat to be in moderation. So which of act ages various programs and interventions are you most excited about as a method of supporting this goal while the government of actually greatly reducing animal product consumption?
Pei Su: 00:06:39 Well, we're welcome the Chinese government's policy on the various other, you know, nonprofit organization they support, and I think this is all a very positive development on the ground. However, the policy is in some way, it's far away from reality in the society where the food eating is part of the culture so close to people's life and the eating culture is almost as a leisure rather than learn to eat, to survive. So to reduce meat consumption is probably one of the hardest issue. When we are trying to tackle, you know, animal welfare or animal rights issues, um, we should not, you know, simplified it. And in ACTAsia we don't have a program particularly focus on veganism or plant based food. However, I strongly believe what we're doing, is providing that foundation and so in the seas to enable our plan based movement to go further and faster.
Pei Su: 00:07:55 The challenge we are facing today is most of Chinese majorities they don't understand the animal welfare issue or raise issue. We're still in an infancy stage if we, you know, using the comparison between West and East or compared to, you know, the English speaking country to China and we are still struggling on the ground to enable people understand what does animals mean. Um, animals are not there just for the human use and, and they are not objects. In ACTAsia, this program focus on children particularly is tried to teach in these children. And it was our sentence. A lot of people were very surprised. We are just for cones on such a simple, you should, but I believe this is the foundation for, you know, the future generation even start to think about it is is right the way we treat animal, what's wrong with the intensive farm?
Pei Su: 00:09:00 Me, what's wrong with a factory? For me, what's wrong with the way these animals has been treated unless they really understand please we feel, you know, or in my 25 years of experience, I feel we are just firefighting all the time. We expose the issue but people are say, okay these are the cruelty. But when they go back to their daily choice, that piece or me might be still very delicious to them. They got to, you know, have the true understanding of these animals can feel the pan. These animals in our suffering day and night, the confinement they have received is totally inhuman. Most of the people they, you know, don't understand these and I personally, you know, feel we need to build their foundations through our education program. And then, you know, when [inaudible] kids, they'd learn, they grew up there more. And when the right time the campaign has, you know, been launch, we will gain the support more widely. So education is for longterm change and that's what we want. We want to, you know, bring in the society, the kids, they work way to the understand. And then about this area of the subjects.
Jamie Harris: 00:10:27 So on the act Asia's website mentions that the caring for life education program supports the mandatory Chinese curriculum for moral and quality education. There are some impressive stats on the website. So by early 2018 caring for life education has been taught to 65,000 children by almost 1,700 trained teachers through 130 schools and more than 20 community centers and holiday camps. So I'm assuming from that description that act Asia's model is to provide resources and support to teachers to encourage them to teach these essence and the act Asia's staff don't actually ever teach the lessons directly themselves.
Pei Su: 00:10:59 Yes.
Jamie Harris: 00:11:00 Okay. Yeah, there's, it's already interesting because I'm different. Different organizations had a different approach to this. I'm not, I mean I'm sure it has worked in the past in, in other, in other countries. But for instance, there's a group called students for high impact charity that obviously had a slightly different focus. Uh, but they tried out several different approaches. So they tried working with teachers but more serious and experimented with working with volunteer students to set up clubs and run sessions or to run workshops directly themselves. So they start, this group doesn't exist anymore, but there's a post written about their work and the problems they faced on the EA forum, which I'll link to on the notes for this show. So yeah. Did you try different approaches or that, I mean obviously that kind of seems ideal cause it's the minimum time input. From your perspective, was it easy to set up or how did that work in the first place?
Pei Su: 00:11:45 When we want to start it caring for life education in school, we started by, you know, taking these, based on what I have observed in last, you know, 20 years, our moment we got in by humane education. It took us two years to review all the different literacies. We regard the humane education, particularly in curriculum, lesson plan and school activities. We look at these um, contents. We reveal the pitfalls, what will happen and we designed a problem. We want to all welcomes the pitfalls. People ask me is is the most effective way or is is hard to get into school? Of course it's a very hard because you are, you know, as NGO you come to the, you know, school, I tell them to use your material, tell them to use their curriculum time when the academic pressure is so, so big. So we make sure we done our study.
Pei Su: 00:12:52 We make sure we prepare all our material very professionally. You know, we've fit in with, for example, when we say professionally is we prepared a curriculum. We prepare the curriculum, we did the guidance on how to use our material. We also have the code and conducts about, you know, how the educator, when they teaching, you know, the the curriculum, how should they behave, how should they teach the lessons. And we are very pleased today. We have reached these, I'll come. This is not just because we lucky. You know, I'm grateful we been doing well but we also, because we have invested your time to do it properly and to teaching in our school. We don't go into the school because of one sympathetic teacher. We make sure we visit a school, we present our project proposal and we, you know, the film with a crew came to enable us to an evil earth to have a [inaudible], to speak to the school management authority.
Pei Su: 00:14:06 And we also need to be smart because ACTAsia has very, you know, small number of the staff. We started his program, our school education was two people and today we have six full time people and we teach, you know, we want to, the school to teach is a curriculum but we did not feel teaching responsibility, is ACTAsia's job. We make sure we train the teachers or we trend the particularly type or the people to be the hour caring for life educator. For example. They could be parents or they can be university student. They are, you know, study. You know, occasions. So the main key is to make sure that teaching responsibility is not within ACTAsia and this well enable us to reach more a doubt to understand well we are tried to reach, you know, what we tried to teach, you know, is compassion, empathy is about respect, you know, human kind to animals.
Pei Su: 00:15:18 Um, protecting the nature and then teach all these issue are interconnected. And so when we go to MOU, we sign an MOU was a school we don't go in because it was one teacher agree, we make sure this is properly agree this school with then you know, using our lesson plan for 10 sections a year and that means 10 lessons in one academic year. We also ask him not to change it all to have our, you know, curriculum or lesson plan, but they can do more if they feel tenderness and is not enough. We also provide a training to teach them to train the educator in crude in primary school teachers or you know, the parents. They become our caring for life educator. So ACTAsia is not teaching ourself always in our person. Now to an able to enter one score to teach one single child, we need to go through barrier process steps and the school authority have to buy in that the academic director have to buy in, the principal have to agree, then the teachers have to agree, wanted teach.
Pei Su: 00:16:33 Then when the kids receive the lesson, the parents have to be, you know, happy. Otherwise they could come into, you know, make a complaint. So a child education is never just a child is actually the various, you know, decision makers have to agree, agree or influence the amount that child harp to be agree as well. And then we felt these is very, very, you know, successfully to using the program to influence, you know, the the institution and to change ways in the institution. And that's where I think we have using slightly different strategy and an approach we using different approach to, you know, tackle, the tremendous issue we are facing. I'm not saying direct campaign is not important. I'm, but I'm saying in addition to this, we've got to start addressing the fundamental issue. We've got to dress, start to saw in a sea Kirti bait in the ground. So when the campaign ease, you know we want to belong to be good campaign, we have someone on the ground, these kids will grow up to grow on to support a campaign. We also don't do cold calls because ease within the culture contact was in the countries. Um, the current situation, we do not think these East, the bright way for us to do the way we're doing East tough, but if we are prepared we believe you can success. And of course you need to meet by fall and you need to be smart as well.
Jamie Harris: 00:18:12 Okay, let's talk briefly about legislative work. So act Asia's website doesn't mention it much, but the changing China report released by ectasia in 2011. It comes across as more optimistic about legislative work than I would've expected. The report notes that act Asia is ongoing capacity building program introduced in 2006 emphasizes the importance of legislation for the animal protection movement, important role of animal groups in promoting the creation and implementation of animal protection legislation and how animal groups can improve and promote animal animal protection legislation, even with limited resources. So by comparison, animal charity evaluators reviewed farmed animal advocacy organizations listed on the GuideStar website in the U S and found that about 7% of total resources of these groups were allocated towards influencing policy and the law. So how do you think the kind of proportion of resources spent by animal advocacy organizations in China compares to that figure of 7%
Pei Su: 00:19:07 I think first of all, we got to recognize that its incomparable -- the two systems. In America and your legislative system particularly, you've got a lobby [inaudible] isn't you have a professional lobbyist. You know you have lobbies, you know lobby company. They are doing, you know, the job to either lobby the legislature, the different sides, you know, different stakeholder. They can have their different inputs. That's not how we work in the power. Like China, they certainly didn't know such a [inaudible] existing in a moment. We have maybe more indirect lobby in some sort of extent, but definitely is not a structure as mature as the West. Also, I think when we wrote the changing China report, it was at a stage, there was a very high hope. There is a legislation regarding the protection of animals and animal cruelty, prevention of cruelty, or animal welfare or and or animal care or this, this title [inaudible] that's at a time at a time.
Pei Su: 00:20:15 We hope it will be, you know, in some way it could be drafting openly discuss with uh, lots of, uh, people from, particularly from our side of China. They don't particularly understand how the legal system works and how a piece of legislation, when they need to be passed by national label or provincial label or municipality label. How does he work? That really was, what were the purpose of course in the report it did. We say, you know, we made in between two, six, eight, eight, we didn't make a specific effort. Do, make sure the animal groups, you know, it was one of those particular, you know, force to ensure the legislation could be passed or could be in favor the animals or species. Um, to be, you know, more actively taking more active role. But the challenges still remain is really, um, like you say, probably in the similar thing is it's no enough effort to be spending on.
Pei Su: 00:21:18 It's, it's um, when they are so many different challenges. So tend to be suffer in animal movement is two issues, you know, two areas work. One is lobby looking at policy legislation. The other side is, you know, education that's a two area tend to be more overlooked. And because they are so many immediate suffering, you know, it's happening. There's so many requirements, direct action, immediate attention. And I think that's where we need to reflect on these, how we, you know, spend more time and energy and also resources on this side. And first of all, you've got to bring the right groups. You know, lots of groups, they, maybe have animal issues, but they don't have expertise. So themselves, uh, she was, you know, a blog. It could be the blog themself to prevent the legislation path because they didn't understand how the role a piece of law is drafted in a sentence.
Jamie Harris: 00:22:20 Okay. So this links into, there's kind of two different trade offs here. One is the kind of institutional versus individual interventions. And as you kind of mentioned earlier, some of the interventions that I tell you she carries out are kind of, although they appear to be individually focused, there's that kind of institutional focus as well because you're trying to build up education within the Chinese, sort of within the Chinese education system, have that focus on animals and building compassion and that sort of thing. So I'm thinking, so Sentience Institute has kind of summarized some of the evidence for and against this institutional versus individual trade-off, uh, on our website in what we call the foundational questions summaries section. I'm wondering what you think about how Chinese advocates, kind of what roughly what proportion of resources should be spent on interventions targeted to individuals and what proportion should be spent on interventions targeted to institutions in China?
Pei Su: 00:23:13 I believe the individual effort and institutional change are interrelated. As organization, you have limited resources, you may not be able to do the both side. So some organization they were focused more on [inaudible] with institution. Some of them were rather to be the outsider making that big noise, make an individual change too, push to, to have the, you know, the institution to change the force. You know, if you look at it, I think you look at the either is if that using me don't you look in right side or left side. I look at us as a circle, you know, I think one way leader to each other at this stage of China. I don't feel only purely for com individual outreach [inaudible] well, you know, reach the goal as effective as we want to reach at the sense of we would like to see, I fail.
Pei Su: 00:24:13 These all should be, you know, both happening. But one might be emphasized more than the others. So I know, you know, teaching in the school seemed to be, we are teachers just talk at individual children. But as I explained, you know, school, uh, educating our future generation, the future leaders, the future, you know, citizens but to, to be able to have that drink and to enter the school, you've got to see the institution will allow you to go in. And I think that's why we developed curriculum. We did not, you know, making our caring for life education course for children become ed hall public talk. That's where I feel that is what we got to change is influenced the, not saying that 50 students is not important, but I feel if we'd really smart we can make that, you know, 50 students they can be happen at the same place at more people to join in.
Pei Su: 00:25:16 If we get institution on board, same as, the fashion designer, you know, when we talk about the compassion in fashion where you can say, okay we, we make the fashion designers, you know, get on board but in a day they want to be able to sell. They want to be able, they brand, you know, they are different than they are as an ethical brand, more recognized by other brands. They are not joining the fur-free retailers scheme who will make that different is the consumer. So I think we trying to do both side. However we were having emphasis upon a percentage more our change with institution in the sense, um, when we can, we were reach the public in the way, you know, not as big as the other. If you talk about really, look at the figures and percentage in a sense. But I do feel purely just using the public to drive him forward to change legislation. I think is harder. But it doesn't mean they, you know, they are the, the area to be given up. But I do think there is a chore you have to make when you only have a $1, you know, you have 100 dollar. What is a percentage and more and more we probably will do, you know, more than, you know, spend more on the institutional change rather than just individual. It does, it will have to helping each out in a sense. Does that make sense what I'm saying now?
Jamie Harris: 00:26:48 Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Really interesting. And I don't think anyone, no one would deny that they're interconnected. I was just interested where you kind of, uh, would, would place the, the difference between the two and where you think you'd place the emphasis. And you've answered that. So let's, let's move on. I want to briefly touch on a slightly different topic. A report by the careers advice organization. 80,000 hours notes that after the U S and the U K China is probably the next most important country in developing and shaping transformative artificial intelligence. Our development in China has strong support from the state and abundance of data from a large pool of mobile phone users and potentially of talent transfer from overseas. Thinking about the longterm future, the extent to which the companies and researchers working on AI development place value on the lives and experiences of non-human sentient beings, including animals, could be vitally important. ACTAsia runs trainings for a variety of professionals. And obviously we've spoken quite there about in enhancing compassion and that kind of educational aspect. Do you think there could ever be scope for act Asia to work directly with AI companies and researchers?
Pei Su: 00:27:46 Yes, I do believe it's very important for the charity sector, nonprofit sector start to seeing how we link with AI using the vantage, you know, AI has been, like you said, it's been particularly you know, popular and you know, developed in China or in Asia because of the technology advancement they have. We as a sector or I go the ACTAsia these explaining to us about, actually even in the last week we invited a specialist. He is just talking about online digital learning, you know, the possibility to link the learning with the AI intelligence. How do we build that? You know, this is a very forward thinking, you know, to grab that in other events. But we also will try to, you know, put in is because of I development. So it's one way to use that technology. You [inaudible]
Pei Su: 00:28:46 What we do and that's one angle. The other angle ACTAsia also is trying to say, you know, AI is developing but he's also show more importance of emotional intelligence. You know, in the world social economic forum. They already talk, talk about in next 10 years. Empathy is one of our key, you know, Mmm. Factors or key elements when it's in your job skills. So the empathy from a person, it's hard to be, you know, day because otherwise what's the different between us and a machine? We will never compete with a machine. But is that humans, you know, compared to [inaudible] no difference between us and a machine. So I think there's a dual purpose when we look at the AI. Firstly how we, you know, w we certainly from now we look in in 2020 for example, when when we don't, we are going to launch the curriculum for you know, with London fashion about when a designer they, they learn in, you know, the sustainable fashion. They, they start the thing they come to stop to using for free. So we are going to promote this curriculum. We are really started to now how do we use this as a sort digital learning platform to the AI. We make it more informative and make them feel more effective. The, to receive the program and to use a curriculum.
Jamie Harris: 00:30:09 So, so do you think there's opportunities to actually work directly with those researchers and and uh, support them too? Build those kinds of models and understanding of compassion into their own work?
Pei Su: 00:30:21 Certainly. I think that's a two. Like I said, it's a two side. One side is we use, we have to look at how AI can advance our current program. The other side is working with the AI specialists, researchers to talk about why compassion, empathy is important during the process. Why is emotional intelligence important in that sense? Otherwise you could have advanced, you know, the technology events but the might not have a moral or ethical standards. That's what we have see in Asia country already. There's so many controversial developments, you know, in that sense we've got to work with these people. So for example, in America there was a, the company they are talking about using AI to develop the medical research or the medical, you know, treatments. And we will be, you know, we have opportunity, we will be talking to them to insert these is what is a humanity. You know, what is a compassionate understanding within AI development? We've got to start it up dialogue. That's why last week when we hosted a forum in a small seminar in university of Oxford also center and we are talking about how science and humanity have to be integrated and that science is including AI as well.
Jamie Harris: 00:31:38 Um, I'd like to discuss some of the kind of potential bottlenecks that are preventing act Asia and other groups operating in China from achieving even more for animals than they currently do. And so potential solutions to those bottlenecks. So at various points, the 2016 charity law in China expresses concern to ensure that charities activities do not endanger national security or social public interests and are not contrary to social morals. So this comes from the unofficial English translation of the law and I'm not 100% certain how well those concepts translate from the original Chinese. But what can organizations that seek to enhance compassion for animals in China do to ensure that they very clearly and firmly support social public interests and morals rather than challenge them in any way?
Pei Su: 00:32:16 I think you have to work wherever you work. You know, you have to work within the local political and social context. And this is apply in various way in particularly the legal framework. You know, you need to make sure you are following the legislation. You can, um, you need to, we need to make sure, Whoa, you would do it in, you know, it can be magnified, you know, you can make people want to follow it and comfortably and we don't any concerns so, well, I don't particularly feel some sorts of expos days. Typo campaign works in China under the social context, you know, not sign that is, no, I'm not saying that's wrong, but I didn't feel personally, I don't feel this is the stage we can, you know, [inaudible] we tried to build. That doesn't mean you will know sign. They are challenges. We facing enormous challenges in every single different way.
Pei Su: 00:33:28 sometimes people cannot even understand how difficult it is in the very little things, you know, he sometimes can no, you just have to live with it in a way. Say does what you choose to, to work in that country. You know, some people say you using to think, you know, I was in Oxford last week, I was talking to a group of academics. They very, you know, they, they talk about science and humanity. They talk about the future. What are we going to do with the world or the challenge we are facing. And then, you know, we are discussed. I feel we can not single out issue. We have to start it. See the interconnectedness of the problem we are facing today is never one issue on. So number one course they interrelated. Then they will say, okay, you seem to say only good thing about China.
Pei Su: 00:34:24 And I say yes, of course. Because as uh, you know, advocates we need to remember to celebrate our small achievements because otherwise no one will last. It's too unbearable. That's one thing. The second thing. I think they are enormous challenges in terms of several, if we don't issue in terms of, you know, the limitation we can do even the basic, the understanding why nonprofit want to operate in that part of the world is it you have in, in England particularly you can back to, you know, 18, 24, you know, you have a prevention of the cruelty, you have the groups, they started under vote capabilities. Now we are in 2019 we do all just very infancy stage even just for the non profit or charitable, you know, program to start. So the understandings hinge, however, okay, lots of bad things happen. Uh, lots of challenge happen.
Pei Su: 00:35:23 What are we going to do? We can say, okay, we walk away. We're not going to do it. We will because he's too bad. We don't want to just talk about a new thing because we don't want you to just talk back. Good. You can say I want to talk about all the bad, but it still doesn't help. In reality, they are challenges. We have to overcome the child and we have to be able to work within the framework that allows us to work. Because if we talk nothing is going to change. Do you see what I'm saying? You know, you can look at China's, this is the problem. This is a problem. This is the problem. Why, you know, talking about the problem, I'm [inaudible] lots of people talk about our problems and not, I'm not saying these problems don't exist. You know they exist in every single way, but they are positive things happen.
Pei Su: 00:36:14 They are a group of people. They are doing, you know, the job they want to make that changes and I think that is where we are because all otherwise if we walk away then you know to think would not carry on. But that will factor the people would, you know say it or why you not pushing the boundary. You know, we will certainly pushing the boundaries when we can, but you've got to balance. It doesn't mean you lost integrity. He doesn't mean you will no recognize the issue. But I just think there is a balance. You've got to, you know, look at a what will be the best way for us to move forward as well.
Jamie Harris: 00:37:00 Makes sense. So let's talk about empowering those advocates and those people trying to make those changes. Um, so animal charity evaluators report on China is most optimistic that foreign groups collaborate with locally registered groups rather than seek to establish an independent presence in China. But this approach relies on there being well-run local groups in China that can be collaborated with and there being advocates who are willing to take on that work themselves. So in your experience, are there many such individuals who are keen to work to improve consideration of animals interested in China?
Pei Su: 00:37:29 First of all, I would like to point it out and also the research, you know, and lots of the data you are quoting. It's actually by a non Chinese group, you know, lots of the data that you are quoting, they say these are that that is from from a Western perspective know I have talking to [inaudible] a lot of groups in America were not explained further. They actually say, wow, we actually download China that much in itself. Um, and I think I have to keep emphasize the animal ones in infancy stage sending us the charity movement similar to the charitable activities. It's still relative didn't you? Within the country we are facing lots of challenges. Not only that the people know what is the issue is but we are facing the challenge is even just by recruiting people that we want to work with us, they want to go work for you know these um, you know, the, the charitable cause. And that is making a huge difference by comparison.
Pei Su: 00:38:36 You know, we have to educate everything from scratch. In the West you would have a people want to queue out, you know, to work with inner child D sector. They will want to say, you know, I'm really passionate and the China, you actually said we haven't got a position in our possible the world. I think we every organization still struggle to loss of talents, you know, because of various reasons and I do feel we got to, it will be good for the international organization. They can lending on ground, find the, the, the, the organization it can work. Work with. Is it perfect? partner? Then, bam! You know, you can go very further. When I started ACTAsia, I feel there was a misunderstanding that gap between what do you think that animal groups or local groups they need and what they think they need. It could be huge gap difference. You know, they might think they lack of funding. You might think they lack all knowledge and how do you match these two together? We, you know, the, the creativity, the animal group to support that. We might not be able to get what we think is a perfect, you know, partnership or perfect working relationship.
Jamie Harris: 00:39:47 So I'm trying to establish the guests. How easy it is to find quality candidates for roles at act Asia or other places? From what you were just saying now I'm wondering whether actually it's not a problem to find quality candidates for those roles. And it's about the kind of finances and ability to actually support a large enough organization to find roles for those talented individuals.
Pei Su: 00:40:09 No, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm actually saying is it is really extremely difficult to find the right candidates organizations because not because of materials they always resource wise lack of, I think what it lack of is the professionalism, lack of the professional development with in the charity sector or nonprofit sector. The understanding of the commitment of professionalism. When they come talk to the animal, you know, uh, contacted, uh, a nonprofit organization that is already the first tier of challenge. Then your second year of challenge is fine. The people work for the charity sector. They want to work on animal issues. They have a really truly understanding of animal issues. No only on companion animals but no can't make companion animals issue, including for including factory farming, including laboratory animals. If you look at animal groups, we are now is very, very handful of them only work now.
Pei Su: 00:41:10 You know, these now, you know, companion animal issues. So the challenge actually is difficult and we've got to be, you know, look at a commercial status when a lot of business people, they invest their business in China, some of them have really miserable failing experience is not everyone is doing business. China is all singing and dancing all you know, gaining huge profits. Some of the really painful experience, we didn't, we, they didn't come out to the public. So when we go to, you know, internationalization, when you go to 'em the the, the country, you've got to look at is this the right time for you to set up the office. Is this the right time the people you are hiring really understand your organizational needs. Either really understand what you ask them to do. Is that possible? We don't all these, we are talking in the issue. We don't the true understanding of each other. And if we don't have all to understanding each other, the world to be conducting will not be effective.
Jamie Harris: 00:42:13 So do you have any thoughts about the best ways to increase the pool of talented and capable individuals seeking to work in this area in China?
Pei Su: 00:42:21 I think the way, first of all, I think we, we have to be patient. I think sometime when we set up the program in China, we want the immediate result. You know, we, we in always in, we haven't talked much about education. When we talk about, we found, you know, veterinary, our best animal ambassador or advocates in China, they don't even, you know, really understand the concept but animal welfare, how to make that into the practice. Out of that related to, you know, they, they, their treatment towards animals and even change that perception with tech took us almost nine years to reach where we are now. They are the best, you know, advocate for what we want to promote. Sometime when we, when we go to the, into the country, we want it, the immediate result we want to say, how, how do you help me to stop, you know, donkey for example, the donkey skin consumption.
Pei Su: 00:43:16 How do you help me to get the rhino to be, you know, stop to be used. There's no quick fix. You know, sometime he might have to bring your staff to be trained. They didn't truly understand what it organization want to do is achievable and, and I think that's what I've heard is the first thing is understand the local context and below expectation at the beginning and then work it out. The strategy that work with in that country and put in the right, you know, expertise to look at a, you know, someone to be able speak Chinese English doesn't mean they understand the issues
Jamie Harris: 00:43:56 [inaudible] yeah, definitely. So that that kind of local understanding that cultural knowledge I'm sure is absolutely vital. I'm interested in in terms of say people that you have worked with or you've hired or even the other organizations work in China have hired. I'm interested in how much difference there tends to be between the kind of the top candidates you eventually get the roles and between the near best candidates.
Pei Su: 00:44:19 Finding the right local partner or finding a right staff to working on the ground is always challenging. Particularly when China, China living standard is more and more expensive as well. It's very common you, when the organization are struck for of funding, you might find a second candidate, you know, because they are not us, you know, such a high cost and you get things moving. But more and more, if you were blogging longer, for example, what our data stage in our, we've been working in China for 13 years, we have, you know, assumption of reputation, we will require more done. Um, you were required almost the leading figures, you know, the people more experienced, they know, you know, to have the experience. People will advance your job more quickly. The best candidates like what you were saying. But lots of the time that will cost, you know, the budget wise he might not be able to afford, you know, at the time.
Pei Su: 00:45:19 Again, again, again, we very often lose the best talents because they're work three times as harder, but they probably receive half of what the commercial rates. And that's where we become, you know, the circle become Visia circle. And when I thought in, in ACTAsia, we was hoping we were able to support these talents, we will help to support more people to work on our side. You know, if you, I always give the example, if you look at the food industry or factory farming industry, look at how many people they just hired to do their marketing and how many people we have in our sector too high to do our marketing. You know, it's just not comparable because we're just so little and so short of personnel. I would now we'd like to put within organization if I can, we would from more, you know, resources on the right talents; people and they can do the job instead of the second best, you know, um, staff I think.
Jamie Harris: 00:46:29 Yeah, sure. So that sounds like the financial considerations are significant bottleneck at the moment is preventing you hiring the staff that you'd like. So I'm interested about the fundraising situation then. I'm not sure whether it applies to all organizations, but I know that some charities, charitable organizations are restricted from fundraising in China. Does the government tend to prefer fundraising from within China or from outside supporters?
Pei Su: 00:46:50 I think you need to follow the local, the country's legislation to able to raise the funds in China. You need to have, you know, certain query criteria to be met. Um, they are more and more corporate or individual. They are potential there to support your cause. However, the philanthrophy concept, the support we don't, you know, directly they commercial gain is still quite hard is very common. You know, you get well the sponsorships. Then the way we say, you know for example might say, Oh I'll give you a in case support. Like I'll give you office space. Then they will immediately say how much, how many likes you can bring into their account? And sometimes we say -- none! You know, we can't do that because we are not your PR and advertising agencies. You know, if it doesn't work it doesn't work.
Pei Su: 00:47:53 It got this, you're going to get one or two. You know, charitable, corporate, social responsibility is not always is you know, bring direct impact or direct you know, benefit to you challenge it. You have corporate in a sense. So I think they are potential, there are opportunities there but the concept to understand that sponsorship, I still think it's still quite early in comparison. That's why you probably [inaudible] our bottleneck. Really the biggest strength, you know, is in financial support. We cannot afford direct mailing. We don't have an individual supporter because we never have enough fundraising costs in the sense. ACTasia is very frugal. We spent, you know there was last week there was one other organization see or ask me say why you're not building a reserve, why you spend all your money on projects. And yes, we've got to them to building that because we are doing that.
Pei Su: 00:48:58 We will be unsustainable ourselves but it's very common. We haven't got that wriggle space because all the founder, lots of founder, you know, gradually they are some founded now they agree to pay the salary. But a lot of the founder, they still look at it, the the the project. They just want to pay the direct cost, but they don't, they forgot the most valuable assets is our staff. They are the one doing R&D. They are at one making sure the program can be delivered on the ground, can be, you know, suitable and would not be scratched. You know, all these is the power of our staff, but we are struggling big big time to even that make that sustainable. If I go to a funder say, can you help me to hire staff to do fundraising? We haven't been able to success because I want to be able to create that sustainable income ourselves as well. But at the moment its still very hand to mouth and that is one of our biggest challenge.
Jamie Harris: 00:50:00 Okay. So where does most of the funding come from at the moment? Are you able to search to fundraise outside of China or does it have to be focused within China?
Pei Su: 00:50:08 No, we, we, we do fund raising. You know, we've got some, um, anonymous, you know, support. We certainly have the, the funding support was in China because they are, you know, they will have to be variable but we just haven't got like thousands of individual members in the sense we don't, we [inaudible] grant, and you know, small amount of corporate funding, um, individual major donors but not the massive, you know, big membership in the sense.
Jamie Harris: 00:50:42 Okay. So do I take, from what you're saying that if you were say just granted another a hundred thousand dollars or something, would you prioritize that spending on establishing some, some of these more sustainable fundraising mechanisms then?
Pei Su: 00:50:55 Yes, if I can, but sadly most are the funding itself is more project oriented. But really to be able sustainable for example, we, we are so virtual, we have very, very low, you know, in overhead costs. We all scattering in different, even within China we have, you know, different parts of the city. We have different staff. We don't even have a budget really to bring a staff together to have sustainable development, you know, to training, you know, to give them the break to really, you know, give them the time to breathe, to do, to reflect what we are doing. You know, because we just haven't got that funding for the development. We don't have the funding to hire professional fundraiser. If you look at all the big organization, they have professional fundraiser, they have a communication writer. We haven't got that. We wish we would have someone, you know, we did it a couple of years ago. We did ask her, you know, tried to seek and founding for supporters to build our digital marketing strategy and enables us to high the communication and marketing director. But we will not have success so far.
Jamie Harris: 00:52:06 Okay. So we've got, these are kind of two interrelated but slightly separate difficulties is having the local talent available. And then also that being partially caused by lack of funding in the fundraising problems. So for a talented young person in a say in a wealthy Western country who is equally excited and likely to be successful at doing, say an intensive course in Chinese and then going to work for act Asia in China or in seeking to maximize their income and then donate as much of it as they could to act Asia in the country that they currently live in. Which would you recommend or prefer
Pei Su: 00:52:38 the second. To, you know, talented, you know, and their salary and they support. I want to give you an example. I hope he's not dialing too much, but for example, we [inaudible] yeah, a handful of 'em corporate. They were coming to, you know, us, they even was one of the tall, you know, consulting company in the world and they Shanghai branch. We'll say, we want to help you, you know, can you, can we do something together? Lots of these types of programs. He ended up is we become a voluntary service organizations. You know, we have to design a program specifically just for these organization to enable them to practice their voluntaryism. But that doesn't always work for our projects. For example, in our caring for life school project, you know, for two of them, we have to, if you want to be a volunteer, you need to donate dedicated for 10 sessions a academic year.
Pei Su: 00:53:36 You got me, you company have to support you. You can't say I'm going to a business trip, I'm not teaching because we just cannot that the school down like that, you know? But uh, most of the time people were so that's work was you all volunteer for you. But it's always on their terms. We, we can't. And also I think it's not like China doesn't have talent. We are gradually finding some talents, but we need to have, be very gentle with them. We need to make sure they don't have see work in these, you know, something will affect, you know, their lifestyle or affect their way of life and they are not feel insecure in various considerations. So I don't particularly feel to learn Chinese go to work is some sort of method to be promoted. You know, I'm not saying you can't, there's some individual might be a very passionate want to do that. It doesn't always fit in the sense, you know?
Jamie Harris: 00:54:41 Okay. Yeah, that's really interesting. So this is, this is a slight contrast from, so this idea kind of comes from, there's a report by the organization 80,000 hours, which is specifically about kind of China experts and kind of people being able to kind of mediate between interests in China and supporters in other parts of the world. Uh, but that's, yeah, that's really interesting to hear that you have this different view,
Pei Su: 00:55:05 but I think the 80,000 hours, I think you need to look at the voluntary work, what type of voluntary work you know, but, but that the social, political [inaudible] that I can't expand more further about the change of society is very different now. You know, we could benefit, but when you're really looking more professional work and some of the issue is not so well know or also familiar with the public, if you say, I'm going to teach in the often age, it might think, okay, that is something possible. Could be quite straightforward but is, you know we are talking about issue is not even a majority to the the the issue before the societies. So many people tend to think what animal issue? Why are you doing that? You know, in, in a sense I think it's very difficult to campaign about that.
Jamie Harris: 00:55:52 So you, you went to university in the UK, didn't you? And you worked for Walden protection for several years. I think you, there's a post on the wet on the Unbound projects website that says you interned with several animal rights organizations in the U S do you think that Chinese advocates would benefit more from seeking experiences inside or outside of China in terms of animal protection organizations? For example, should they seek to work with existing Chinese groups seeking to build compassion for animals in China or assuming that they're willing to travel? Is it better to get experience working with large organizations based in countries with more established animal protection movement?
Pei Su: 00:56:25 I was lucky I started from a grassroots so I understand the grass roots. They struggling, well, the day to day challenging they are facing then I was, but as a young woman, I can't understand why we are such a minority and why, you know, they don't the legislator or media, they don't listen to the people like me. So I let you know the country I went, I went to, I spent a year to stay in different animal organization, you know, and from rights to welfare to humane education in America and Europe because at the time I wanted to see how could they be so sustainable in a sense. How can they become so professional? Why is animal group can establish is a group to get funding and get, get media attention, et cetera. And afterwards what my purpose and then that's why I went to study in the UK, in the UK, my studies at the time it was who, participates in animal rights movement more.
Pei Su: 00:57:32 Who are these people? What are the different between, you know, where I was until now. Um, and I think all these is enable you to see you [inaudible] the grassroots and bigger picture. And when I worked for worst idea for protection of animals now called while I was in the heart of international movement and you know we have branch offices, we have lots of international projects. I was leading for the ACTAsia, you know the director, the projects in Asia and then lead to, I was working with all the member of organization around the world. So from grassroots to the international to the bigger scale of the global, you know, more or less Asian movement of organizations. I experienced both and I think that's my advantage and I think if someone asks me do they do it, I will ask them to do both.
Pei Su: 00:58:25 I do think you've got to understand the local context. Then when you look at the global lens, you know how to transform back to where your Country is. I think we used to have say global vision, local action and it seems really simple but actually it's very complex and it's very difficult all in. If you look at all the international development, all the international projects, you know, what does I actually mean? You know, who is doing a project in the sense of who is driving that sees what we are doing in China, we would never say this is what we decide with the, the, the Western experts, you should do it. We always is ,this is a blueprint. This is a map we can do. But when we look into implement it in China, we might say, okay, we have to, you know, we have to, you know, you know, challenge these and to make it work.
Pei Su: 00:59:23 But that again require a lot of time and effort and also experience. And I think that's why what you were saying, the ease if they can, I think they should do something on the ground and then move to see international. It may not be like me to take a year, maybe the internship for work experience for certain amounts of time, you know, the animal groups can, you know, afford sometime the group in the West may not want to have that kind of hustle because they are come and go. But if there is a community like that certain thing that is would be very useful. Okay.
Jamie Harris: 01:00:01 Interesting. So another kind of opportunity that people might have is to think about time in for-profit roles or nonprofit roles and the different experiences they get there. So I'm thinking as well, if there are any aspiring CEOs or executive directors listen to this podcast, would you guess that in general it's more important for them to develop experience in animal advocacy organizations or experience in management in other opportunities? So for example, it's somebody who's working for in the for profit sector or they could be working in say a public sector role and they see prospects for promotion and management experience. Do you think it's more important for them to continue with that experience or is it, and is that possibly more useful than seeking direct work in animal advocacy organizations earlier on?
Pei Su: 01:00:43 I think as a CEO or the leader organization, you do have to look at management. You do look at your finance, you need to have to work, development, HR at the main, you know, projects, everything. So you are not just focused on the projects. That is a strength. If we can get from the corporate sector, you know, they move to, to the the nonprofit sector. However, the nonprofit sector, if you have the CEO, they are in the management background. They don't know the issue is [inaudible] charity sector, then they rely on their key members. So for example, you might have, he must have a very strong project directors. They understand what they're doing on the ground, otherwise you're going to be blind leading blind. And so I think it's not impossible, you know, [inaudible] walk it up. But they have to balance, if you, hello animal background like myself or protect background, when you move to a management role, you've got to really look at is that, Oh my God, we have to have, look at all our costs.
Pei Su: 01:01:44 We have to look at more budget more closely instead of organic developed, just hand to mouth. You know, we just do whatever we think is the opportunity we have to learn to become more professional to into that management, you know, managing your organization professionally. So that is the balance they have to do. However, if you were [inaudible] organizations, chief is only in management background, we don't understanding and no issues, we don't understanding international development project issue then the Oliver your right arm or left arm, whatever. You've got to have someone to fulfill that gate gap otherwise is a disaster. You know I have seen various organization [inaudible] and I think that was the one or the reason I decide to set up our deja on clearly see there was a gap between what the international community thing, what are countries need. Mmm. What actually the countries need itself and how do you work out a balance to work together and find the best solution forward.
Jamie Harris: 01:02:55 ACTAsia has mostly worked in China so far I believe. Have there been any efforts to expand the program to other Asian countries or is the focus very much done in China? So in a 2018 webinar that you gave called concepts and lessons on humane education, you mentioned that you'd been looking into opportunities in Pakistan. Did much come of those efforts?
Pei Su: 01:03:11 Yes, we do feel China is such a powerful nations. They are, you know, commercially they have impacts politically are different parts of Asia as well. Um, we have been working in China for extensively in our 13 years. We fail some of our China experience on a model. It could be, you know, duplicated or can be apply to other parts of Asia country. And in my experience I found some of the experience we have in China probably is more predictable than the European or North American experience for other Asia country. So China in last year, they have the policies is to influence or you know, close working with all the West part of China with Southwest part of China that's including the poor, you know, Pakistan, you know, India or an order. Amit a middle Asia is, it's you know, poles and face. So I does how we start thinking strategically.
Pei Su: 01:04:15 We could using that. And it was, we had a contact from Pakistan, you know, we were introduced to the Pakistan scene [inaudible] so it is a provincial labor equivalent to the American space label. We were talking to the education department directly through our 18 months of effort. We are now the, you know, we had the various needs saying we don't to started our master training program in October that we will start at 50 school as a pilot for first year of primary school educations students or we will trend the master trend and the master trainer. We're trend the school principals or teachers. So is that so the pyramid system to reach the bigger math in the sense and we're very, very excited about you know, this opportunity again we are working with institutes we working inside institutions, the education system to make that do make our caring for life education to reach the students
Jamie Harris: 01:05:24 [inaudible] and with the program be the same in Pakistan or would it be just a very similar outlines but with some local tweaking?
Pei Su: 01:05:30 It must be, you know, we must be able to adapt it to the local culture, you know, local religion, et cetera. I think the framework, the guidelines you know is there but related to the actual lesson plan it might need to be adopted in the sense we don't know yet how much staff content it was regarding about lesson plan would actually need to be changed or or adapted but the whole framework, the standard, you know the the the curriculum standard or the curriculum guidelines that will not be changed. You know the purpose for objective and birth for setting up these course within the country won't be changed but this actual lesson plan that might be different and we actually was encouraging the teachers, they develop their own lesson plan. Our lesson plan is really try to make it as easy as possible for the teachers that are keen to teach but they don't have time to develop the new lesson plan. Like what you were mentioned to me earlier is some of the lessons like in a West is much more, you know flexible. We are taking the angle is if they don't know the issues, if they don't understand what we tried to achieve to expect the teachers to develop lesson plan might be quite challenging because they have academic tasks need to be fulfilled. And that's why we develop our own lesson plans.
Jamie Harris: 01:06:57 So how frequently are you able to share experiences and strategic ideas with other groups trying to increase consideration of animals interests in China and other Asian countries? I know that there's already a couple of conferences in Asia seeking to connect groups, working to help animals. There's the world conference on farm animal welfare, jointly hosted by the UN food and agriculture organization. And the international cooperation committee of animal welfare is also the Asia for animals symposium, which will be held in Dalian in China this year on the 18th to 20th October. And additionally, the animal advocacy conference, Asia is scheduled for September or October, 2020 with a focus specifically on farmed animals. So have you found much use at those sorts of conferences and have you had many other opportunities to interact with the animal advocates outside of those conferences?
Pei Su: 01:07:40 Um, we welcome advocacy group to contact us to discuss what we, you know, how we can work together. For example, our issue, we have Asia for free, you know network, you know we, we know we we want to do work within Asia contacts. We can have a content in different area to develop cross continent link. Across countries in the continent. Again you require effort and planning. We haven't had that resources yet. We would love to, you know to using our caring for life education model to hope to see the special conference is in for Asian audience is a little bit like in America they have you know, humane education conference invite all stays or international audience to come. We haven't had that budget. However we have developed, for example, we caring for life guide that is our website is a 64 pages of documents.
Pei Su: 01:08:43 It was really encouraging. Someone has said, Oh I'm right. I'm like quite like to start it a similar [inaudible] they know my own respective country. And we were saying, well maybe this is a, a basic, you know, first step to look at what in the document, how we started. And we listed the 10 points, you know, for you to what you can do to start it is 10, you know, this problem with following the 10 steps. Is that something you think you can do? If you can, then we can start off on that. And that's how we, we found our local partner in Pakistan was, I was speaking in Asia for annual conference in 2017 in Nepal. Then they approached us, we started to guided them, what documents for them to read, et cetera from that. And then we develop the concrete project. But again, this is taken two years to support this initiative as well.
Jamie Harris: 01:09:40 Okay. Pei, I think I could probably go on asking you lots of lots of questions forever, but they want to take up too much of your time. And so how can listeners find you online to support your work?
Pei Su: 01:09:49 Yes, we could have just www.actasia.Org to find earth and there's a online donation system and if you want to get in touch with us is email@example.com. We need lots of support. We are facing lots of challenges, um, but we are also very positive. We going to Pakistan. This is the country where you know, the human animals nature are all sufferings. I'm with moving into a new country. We need more support as well. We hope everyone can get your vow website on. Get in touch with me. It's us.
Jamie Harris: 01:10:26 Excellent. Thank you very much for joining me and for all your really interesting answers.
Pei Su: 01:10:31 Thank you.
Jamie Harris: 01:10:32 Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. You can subscribe to the sentience Institute podcast in iTunes. What are the podcast apps? You can find out more about our work and check out the links to the resources mentioned in this episode at sentienceinstitute.org.