Expats try hard not to hound the Chinese over the Yulin dog festival

By Adam Skuse Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-2 17:43:01

Cooked dogs on display at a vendor's stall in Yulin Photo: CFP

Last week the city of Yulin in Guangxi Zhaung Autonomous Region held its annual dog meat festival, during which thousands of dogs as well as cats were slaughtered and eaten.

While in recent years there has been growing controversy over the festival, this year condemnation from home and abroad reached new heights, with stories featured in international media in the run-up to the event putting the city in the spotlight.

There were also confrontations on the street between animal welfare protesters claiming the festival was barbaric and calling for a ban, and locals arguing that it was part of their cultural heritage and was no more cruel than eating other types of meat.

The numbers of dogs consumed this year was reportedly down to some 7,000 animals, which activists said indicated the festival's days were numbered. The Global Times asked foreigners for their thoughts on the festival and the issues it raises.

Dogs to be killed are caged. Photo: IC

Ellie , librarian, the UK

The Yulin dog meat festival is undeniably barbarous, cruel, and unnecessary, but no more so than the Western practice of slaughtering and devouring pigs, sheep, and other animals deemed socially acceptable to eat. What I have actually found most disturbing is the reaction of many Westerners, a seething barrage of hatred, directed at China and the Chinese people as a whole. This sort of blanket racism, although brought on by anger at a truly awful example of human cruelty to animals, is in no way acceptable or productive.

Yulin is being seen by some as a representation of the entire country of China, and its often deplorable attitude toward animals. This hypocrisy, however, and the denial that other animals are not equal to dogs and cats simply because they have not traditionally been invited into our homes, should be recognized as a prompt to re-evaluate how the entire world views and values animals of all species, including human beings.

John, lawyer, the UK

I just arrived in Shanghai from the UK - there was a lot of coverage of the festival on TV and in the papers. It certainly didn't paint a pretty picture. But I think the coverage also showed a certain amount of ignorance of China. It's not as if everyone here eats dog meat. Also, the number of dogs killed and eaten is tiny compared to the number of animals that are slaughtered everyday, and often in terrible conditions. So while I personally would never eat dog and find it pretty disgusting, I don't think condemning people is the right way to go. Especially if it is part of their tradition. If anything, this will just make the people who do it more entrenched and determined.

Animal protection activists in Yulin protest over eating dogs and cats. Photo: IC

Rich, student, the US

No, I wouldn't choose to eat dog meat or attend this festival, it's really not my thing. It's a horrible situation but one that, I think, with time and education, will get better. It also diverts attention from some more important issues, such as the trafficking of illegal animal parts like ivory. This kind of thing is big business and although there is awareness of the problem, the amounts of money and powerful people involved mean it is going to be really hard to stop.

Lisa, student, the US

I saw one video report and it was horrific. There was a big family gathering and they were chopping dogs up outside while there were kids running about and playing. The reporter spoke to one of the kids who had a pet dog and he said he hoped his family would spare his dog. What kind of a lesson does that teach children? I know there is an argument about cultural relativism and how easy it is to judge other cultures, and how things we do in the West are seen as equally unacceptable here, but I think now in a more globalized world with more awareness, there is little excuse for things like this to go on. I hope it does get banned.

Brian, teacher, Ireland

I have asked some of my Chinese students their thoughts on the festival and most of them said they thought it should be banned. However I don't think any of the outside pressure on China to ban this will be helpful. This kind of change has to come from within a society. But the signs are good - for example, most young people are against this kind of thing and there are lots of people who are more and more inclined to stand up for animal rights. I think the days of this festival are numbered.

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, City Panorama

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