China has shown interest in importing donkeys and dogs from Pakistan, officials have told a parliamentary committee as the cash-strapped country is trying to overcome a major economic crisis.
During a briefing on imports and exports on Monday between the officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Senate Standing Committee, one of its members, Dinesh Kumar said that China has expressed interest in importing donkeys as well as dogs from Pakistan, Geo News reported.
Senator Abdul Qadir also informed the committee that the Chinese ambassador had also talked about exporting meat from Pakistan several times.
One of the members of the committee also suggested that since animals are comparatively cheaper in Afghanistan, Pakistan can import from there and then export the meat to China.
However, the committee was informed by the officials of the commerce ministry that animal import from Afghanistan has been temporarily banned as there have been reports of lumpy skin disease among animals in the neighbouring country.
China's keen interest in donkeys is because they use the animal's hide in manufacturing traditional Chinese medicines, "eijao" or donkey-hide gelatin that supposedly has medicinal properties, traditionally used to nourish the blood and enhance the immune system.
Pakistan, which has the world's third largest population of donkeys, currently having 5.7 million animals, has earlier also exported the animals to China.
Last year, the Punjab government set up a donkey farm over 3,000 acres in Okara district in Punjab province intending to export donkeys to help with the country's drying foreign cash reserve.
The first-of-its-kind government-owned farm is used to rear donkeys of "great breeds" including American, to increase the export to China and other countries. China earlier used to import its stock of donkeys from Niger and Burkina Faso, until the two West African countries banned their export.