Animal rights advocates yesterday criticised the withdrawal of draft legislation to protect animal welfare in Beijing. The bill, which would have become the first of its kind on the mainland, was mistakenly posted on the website of the Legal Affairs Office this month. The draft was quietly withdrawn last week after it received much publicity. 'We had too many files and mistakenly put the ... regulation on the website,' said Ling Peili, of the Legal Affairs Office. Another official said it was still premature to consider an animal protection law. The International Fund for Animal Welfare called for the municipal government to press on with the initiative. 'As the capital of China, Beijing is in a position to set an example to the rest of the country,' said the groups communications co-ordinator, Jeff He. Under the proposed rules, people - including farmers - would have a legal obligation to treat animals humanely, including suppling enough food, water and living space. Farm animals could only be slaughtered after they had been stunned, and when they were out of sight of other animals. The draft rules also proposed restrictions on the use of animals for entertainment. Anyone breaking the rules could be fined up to 10,000 yuan. Professor Qiao Xinsheng , of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan , said the mainland's position as a developing country made it unrealistic to adopt animal welfare laws.