Guangxi denies knowledge of petition

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-5 0:13:47

Opposition to dog meat event attracts over 200,000 online signatures

The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region government on Thursday denied knowing about an online petition calling for the cancellation of the annual Yulin dog meat festival which had received more than 200,000 signatures from netizens.

Two press officers of the regional government told the Global Times that they never heard about the petition and declined to comment.

US animal welfare group Duo Duo started gathering signatures on since May, calling on the Guangxi government to cancel the festival which is held on June 21 in Yulin.

The festival attracts thousands of people who eat dog-meat hotpot and lychees and drink liquor.

"As foreigners who have great respect for the Chinese people and Chinese civilization, we are saddened to learn that the Yulin 'Dog Meat Festival' still exists in a modern civilized society," read the petition.

The petition said the festival may have food safety issues and exposes young people to violence, and it would damage the image of Guangxi.

The petition received over 200,000 supporters and a campaign video on YouTube has been viewed more than 140,000 times as of the press time.

On Monday, the BBC reported that about a quarter of a million tweets have been posted using the hashtag "StopYulin2015," and most of those who tweeted come from the UK, the US and Australia.

More than 345,000 Chinese netizens joined the discussion on Sina Weibo, with some expressing rage and disappointment over the festival, while others said that people should respect local customs.

"The festival was spontaneously organized by residents and the regional government has no right to cancel it as eating dog meat doesn't violate the law," another official surnamed Chen told the Global Times.

"This is not the first time for Yulin to draw international attention, especially the bloody slaughter scenes," Qin Xiaona, director of the Capital Animal Welfare Association, told the Global Times Thursday.

Eating dog meat is not safe and some Guangxi officials had been promoting the festival as a selling point in recent years to attract visitors, said Qin, adding that animal protection groups still hope the local government cancels the festival to deal with the food safety issue.

The Yulin government denied hosting the festival in June 2014, stating that it would enforce strict food safety regulations after clashes erupted between animal rights activists and business owners, the Beijing-based The Mirror newspaper reported in June 2014.

A Yulin dog meat restaurant owner surnamed Qin told the Global Times that some residents will still eat dog meat on June 21, but if any animal rights activists come to his restaurant during this year's festival, he would sell live dogs to them.

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