AS THE UK signals its willingness to diverge from European rules in order to secure trade deals elsewhere in the world, a 'vulgar' stunt at a Chinese theme park has reminded the world that the economic superpower has very different standards of animal welfare.

However, to the credit of the Chinese public, many of them have also complained about the opening ceremony of a new bungee attraction at the Meixin Red Wine Town theme park in the municipality of Chongqing in south-western China – where a 75kg pig was harnessed and thrown off a 68-metre high tower.

There was outrage on both domestic and global social media after footage of the stunt circulated on the internet. It did not help that local media outlets reported that the pig was 'ok' and had been sent to a slaughterhouse afterwards.

The theme park has since issued a statement acknowledging that the stunt was misjudged: "We sincerely accept netizens' criticism and advice and apologise to the public," it said. "We will improve marketing of the tourist site, to provide tourists with better services."

Animal cruelty is not punishable by law in China – but there is growing awareness of animal welfare issues amongst its increasingly affluent consumers.

"Killing animals for consumption and treating them cruelly for entertainment are two different things," said one online critic of the enforced bungee jump. "There is no need to torture them like this."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' senior vice president Jason Baker commented: "Pigs experience pain and fear in the same ways that we do, and this disgusting PR stunt should be illegal. The Chinese public's angry response should be a wake-up call to China's policy-makers to implement animal protection laws immediately."