Yulin’s dog meat vendors cover signage

By Liu Xin in Yulin and Zhao Yusha in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2016/6/20 1:33:00

Local govt checks compliance ahead of expected protests during festival

Restaurants in Yulin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, covered the Chinese character "dog" on their signboards in order to "avoid trouble" ahead of the start of a controversial dog meat festival on Tuesday.

Fearful of the protests from animal rights activists that have inundated past festivals, many restaurants and vendors in the city covered the Chinese character for "dog" on their signboards. Some restaurants even changed their names entirely. A dog meat seller surnamed Zhou who works at the city's Dongkou market told the Global Times on Sunday that she just wanted to "avoid trouble."

Another dog meat seller surnamed Li who works near Liangbin Road told the Global Times that the government has required vendors to cover their signboards. "Recently, authorities have frequently asked to check the licenses of these restaurants and vendors, including their food sanitation permits and business licenses," Li said.

Many animal activists did not buy vendors' attempts to hide what they are purveying.

"They know it is something disgraceful, so they try to cover the name," Wang Xiaojun, senior communications manager at international animal rights group World Animal Protection, told the Global Times on Sunday.

On Jiangbin Road, dubbed "dog street" for the cluster of dog meat restaurants there, a line has formed as people wait for these restaurants to start hanging their dog meat and prepare for dinner at 6 pm.

Before mass media coverage of the festival - which has been held on the summer solstice since the 1990s - began in recent years, only local people bought dog meat around the solstice, whereas now many people from Northeast China or neighboring Guangdong Province also come here to taste the meat, a local citizen surnamed Zhang told the Global Times on Sunday.

Zhou, the dog meat seller, said that eating dog meat is a long-standing tradition that people from outside the area may not understand.

Past festivals have witnessed confrontations on the street between restaurant owners, vendors and animal welfare protesters, who claim the festival is barbaric and who have called upon the city to stop the "cruel celebration" of dog meat, lychees and strong liquor.

"The government is capable of telling the public that this kind of tradition is improper and should be banned," Jiang Hong, head of a Xi'an-based animal protection group, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"The market stimulated the production chain. In order to get dogs, many people resorted to stealing and poisoning them, which may be dangerous, since some people were likely to have been poisoned by eating poisoned dogs," Jiang added.

A supervisor of the Dongkou market surnamed Pang told the Global Times that all the dog meat sold in the market had been approved by the local food safety watchdog, adding that no law or regulation prohibits residents from buying or selling dog meat.

According to a report by West China Metropolis Daily, some 10,000 dogs are consumed during every dog meat festival.

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