Lychee and Dog Meat Festival

The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival (or Yulin Dog Meat Festival) is an annual festival held in Yulin, Guangxi, China, during the summer solstice in which festival goers eat dog meat and lychees. The festival began in 2009 and spans about ten days during which thousands of dogs are reportedly consumed. The festival has drawn criticism both domestically and abroad.

Lychee and Dog Meat Festival
玉林荔枝狗肉节
Dog on a stick.jpg
StatusActive
GenreFestival
Begins21 June
Ends30 June
FrequencyAnnually
Location(s)Yulin, Guangxi
Coordinates22°38′N 110°09′E / 22.633°N 110.150°E / 22.633; 110.150Coordinates: 22°38′N 110°09′E / 22.633°N 110.150°E / 22.633; 110.150
CountryChina
Inaugurated21 June 2009 (2009-06-21)[1]
Most recent21 June 2020 (2020-06-21)
Previous event21 June 2018 (2018-06-21)

BackgroundEdit

The festival is celebrated annually in Yulin, Guangxi, China, during the summer solstice in June, by eating dog meat and lychees.[2] Early on, it was reported that roughly 10,000 dogs had been consumed for each annual occurrence of the festival.[2] This number is estimated by some to have decreased to 1,000 in 2015.[3]

ConcernsEdit

Animal crueltyEdit

The festival organizers claim that the dogs are killed humanely[2] and that "eating dog is no different from eating pork or beef".[4] Animal rights activists and campaigners, however, claim that the animals are treated cruelly. Some media outlets, including tabloids, have reported that dogs are intentionally tortured or boiled alive to improve the taste of their meat.[5] Several other reports have stated that since 2015 there has been little evidence for those allegations.[6][7]

Dog theftEdit

There are allegations that many of the dogs eaten appear to have been stolen household pets from local villages, judging by their collars and sometimes by family members who identify their own pets.[8]

Despite widespread belief that dogs consumed at the festival were bred from dog farms, a study done by Animals Asia Foundation reported that most dogs that are consumed are strays or stolen pets. Approximately 70% of rural villages surveyed in China have suffered mysterious dog losses.[9][10]

Changes in 2020Edit

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, China's Agriculture Ministry and Rural Affairs officially declared that dogs are companions, and should not be treated as livestock.[11]

During February, the city of Yulin made a statement to put a ban to the dog consumption market, stating that as an effort to combat coronavirus. However, the Festival resumed on 21 June 2020 in defiance of the government campaign, although reportedly with a dwindling number of attendees.[12][13]

ReactionsEdit

DomesticEdit

In 2016, 1,000 dogs were rescued from the festival; the previous week 34 animals (21 dogs, eight puppies, and five cats and kittens) were rescued from a slaughter facility in Yulin by Humane Society International.[14] Another 1,000 dogs were saved by Chinese activists in 2017.[15]

Millions of Chinese in 2016 voted in support of a legislative proposal by Zhen Xiaohe, a deputy to the National People's Congress of China, to ban the dog meat trade.[16] A petition in China at the very same year with 11 million signatures garnered calling to end the festival was presented to Yulin government offices in Beijing.[17] Reports from 2014 and 2016 have also suggested that the majority of Chinese both on and offline disapprove of the festival.[18][19][20] Chinese celebrities such as Fan Bingbing, Chen Kun, Sun Li and Yang Mi have also publicly expressed a distaste for the event.[2][21]

In 2017, over 1,300 dogs were rescued by activists. After a tip, a truck transporting the dogs was blocked. Police confirmed that the majority of the dogs were stolen and not allowed for consumption, allowing volunteers to rescue the dogs. Up to 40% of the dogs also carried infectious diseases.[22]

State mediaEdit

In a 2014 statement released to Xinhua, Yulin's local government denies any official involvement or endorsement of the festival itself, and describes the event as a local custom observed by "a small percentage" of Yulin's residents. They attribute the branding of the event to local businesses and residents.[23]

An editorial published by the People's Daily expressed the view that while activists understand dogs as "companion animals", neither the Chinese legal system nor the current Chinese public recognizes them with this special status. While noting the "duality" of dogs as both companions and food items, the editorial urges restraint in handling the issue and calls mutual understanding from both organizers and activists in reaching a respectful compromise.[24]

Media campaignsEdit

Campaigns have had an impact on spreading awareness of the festival around the globe. Many activists and public figures take to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and have created hashtags such as #notodogmeat,"#stopyulinforever", "#stopyulin2015", and "#stopyulin2016", and more recently "#stopyulin2020" to spread the word. Due in part to social media campaigns both in and outside of China, the number of dogs slaughtered has apparently decreased since 2013 to 1,000 in 2016, although the festival is still being held in 2020.[3]

NewsEdit

Amidst reporting on clashes between Chinese animal advocates and dog meat traders, The New York Times interviewed professor Peter J. Li of the University of Houston–Downtown on his views of the allegations from dog meat traders that local activists had introduced a harmful Western ideology into China. Li replied that the opposition to eating dog meat at the festival began with the Chinese, as "the bond between companion animals and humans is not Western. It's a transcultural phenomenon".[25]

The director of Animal Protection and Crisis Response for Humane Society International explained in an article on CNN the reasons for his opposition to the festival and called on the Yulin government to cancel the festival.[26]

An article in 2016 that was written by the BBC noted that the dog meat festival began in China amid widespread criticism, saying, "Activists say the event is cruel, and this year a petition calling for it to be banned collected 11 million signatures."[27]

An article in The Guardian by Jill Robinson said that the dog meat trade is "steeped in illegality" and the reason why dogs are special and deserve kind treatment is because "they are friends and helpers of humankind."[28] Another article by Julian Baggini that was published in the same news outlet said that what should be most appalling about the festival "is not which particular animal is being killed, but that too many animals in the West are treated nearly or just as cruelly" and that "vegans are the only group who can oppose the festival without any fear of hypocrisy".[29]

An article in The Independent encouraged protests against the festival but also compared the festival with the 1.9 million animals "brutally slaughtered" in the UK every month and noted that "the western distinction between dogs and farm animals is completely arbitrary".[30] An article in The Diamondback further questioned whether the large amount of criticism towards the festival was truly due to animal rights instead of cultural relativism, arguing that chickens being "drowned alive in scalding tanks" or left to "freeze to death in slaughterhouse trucks" was another cruel practice in the US that had garnered less attention.[31]

Other columns from organisations that include Animal Outlook (formerly Compassion Over Killing) and Mercy for Animals have also drawn comparisons to the treatment of animals raised for food in the West, reminding their readers of similar cruelty in how they are treated.[32][33][34]

In June 2020 a large number of UK regional newspapers covered comments from Julia de Cadenet of NoToDogMeat that the Yulin Dog Meat Festival may not receive as many visitors that year due to the coronavirus pandemic [35]

Social mediaEdit

The outrage on social media over the 2014 festival was unprecedented.[21] UK Charity NoToDogMeat started a global #StopYulin Campaign.

In June 2015, an online petition against the festival was started in the United Kingdom, gathering over 4 million signatures.[4] In 2016 Humane Society International organised a petition in opposition to the dog eating festival which was signed by 11 million people worldwide.[14]

A 2016 survey conducted by Chinese polling company Horizon, found that 64% of Chinese citizens want to see an end to the Yulin festival.[36]

PoliticsEdit

U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings introduced, alongside 27 original cosponsors, a bipartisan resolution (House Resolution 752) in 2016 which condemned the annual festival in Yulin and called on the Chinese government to prohibit the dog meat trade outright.[37][16][38] The resolution was supported by the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Humane Society International.[39] In 2017, Hastings reintroduced, alongside 49 original co-sponsors, his 2016 bipartisan resolution through House Resolution 30.[40][41]

The festival has also been condemned in an Early Day Motion signed by Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the UK Labour Party.[42]

PublicEdit

Celebrities including Joaquin Phoenix, Matt Damon, Sia, Bill Maher, Lisa Vanderpump, Ricky Gervais, George Lopez, Ian Somerhalder, Leona Lewis, Lori Alan, Tom Kenny and Rob Zombie have publicly denounced the festival.[2][43][44][failed verification]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Friend or food? Dog meat trade divides China". CNN. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e "China Yulin dog meat festival under way despite outrage". BBC News. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "This Chinese dog-eating festival's days are numbered thanks to a massive social media campaign". Business Insider. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Dog Meat Festival Faces Social Media Backlash". Sky News. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  5. ^ Wedderburn, Pete (12 September 2016). "Animal cruelty in China: what can be done about it?". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  6. ^ "This Chinese dog-eating festival's days are numbered thanks to a massive social media campaign". Business Insider. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  7. ^ "The truth about the Yulin dog meat festival – and how to stop it". Animals Asia Foundation. 1 June 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  8. ^ O'Neil, Lauren (22 June 2015). "Dog meat festival in China takes place despite massive online protest". CBC News. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  9. ^ "China's meat dog farms are a myth – most are poisoned and stolen from rural homes". Animals Asia. June 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Lies, illegality and stolen lives: a true crime story" (PDF). Animals Asia. June 2015.
  11. ^ "Dogs now pets not livestock in China regulation shake-up". ABC. 9 April 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  12. ^ "Campaigners renew calls to halt China's Yulin dog meat festival after rescue of puppies from a meat market days before festival begins". Humane Society International. 17 June 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  13. ^ "China's annual dog-meat fair opens; activists hope for last time". Reuters. 22 June 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  14. ^ a b Boult, A; Connor, N. (22 June 2016). "Activists rescue 1,000 dogs from controversial dog meat festival". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  15. ^ "China Activists Save 1000 Animals Ahead of Dog Meat Festival". Time. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  16. ^ a b "US Congressional resolution asks China to end Dog meat festival". The Indian Express. PTI.
  17. ^ "Millions of Chinese Want the Yulin Dog Meat Festival to Stop". Time. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  18. ^ "Dog meat festival begins in China". BBC News. 21 June 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  19. ^ Kaiman, Jonathan (23 June 2014). "Chinese dog-eating festival backlash grows". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  20. ^ "Poll: Majority of Chinese public wants Yulin dog meat festival shut down : Humane Society International". hsi-old.pub30.convio.net. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  21. ^ a b Linshi, Jack (18 June 2014). "6 Things You Need to Know About China's Dog-Eating Yulin Festival". TIME. TIME.
  22. ^ Matthew Bossons (23 June 2017). "An Insider's Account on Activists' Yulin Dog Rescue".
  23. ^ "玉林市政府就网络上所谓"夏至荔枝狗肉节"作出回应". China Daily. 7 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  24. ^ "人民日报评"狗肉节之争":从两件小事看玉林口水仗". People's Daily. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  25. ^ Huang, Shaojie (18 June 2015). "Q. and A.: Peter J. Li on the Clash Over Eating Dogs in China". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  26. ^ Parascandola, Adam (19 June 2016). "Friend, not food: Why China needs to stop dog meat festival". CNN.
  27. ^ "Yulin dog meat festival begins in China amid widespread criticism". BBC. 21 June 2016.
  28. ^ Robinson, Jill (20 February 2014). "Yes, cats and dogs are special – they deserve our protection in China". The Guardian.
  29. ^ Baggini, Julian (22 June 2015). "Is it OK to eat dogs?". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  30. ^ Nagesh, Ashitha (22 June 2015). "Protest against the Yulin dog meat festival, but don't forget the 1.9m animals brutally slaughtered in the UK every month". The Independent. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  31. ^ McKinney, Alyssa. "Before you criticize China for killing dogs, remember the animals killed here". dbknews.com. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  32. ^ Meier, Erica; Executive Director of Compassion Over Killing (26 June 2016). "Are We Any Better Than Yulin Dog Meat Festival-Goers?". HuffPost. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  33. ^ Kishwar, Shantanu (20 June 2018). "Painted in Hypocrisy: Outrage Over the Yulin Dog Festival". THE BASTION. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  34. ^ "Yulin Is Horrific, but You Should See What We Do to Animals Right Here in the U.S." Mercy For Animals. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  35. ^ "Coronavirus could be a good thing for Yulin Dog Meat Festival campaigners - here's why". www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
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  37. ^ Hastings and Vanderpump, Alcee L. and Lisa. "Congressman Alcee Hastings and Lisa Vanderpump Team Up to End the Cruel and Inhumane Yulin Dog Meat Festival". HuffPost.
  38. ^ Kretzer, Michelle (6 June 2016). "U.S. Congress Aims to Shut Down China's Dog-Meat Trade". PETA. PETA.
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  40. ^ L. Hastings, Alcee. "Hastings Reintroduces Legislation Condemning the Yulin Dog Meat Festival and Urging China to End the Dog Meat Trade".
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  42. ^ EDM 134 Yulin Dog Meat Festival 2015, 2015-16
  43. ^ de Cadenet, Julia (19 June 2015). "Yulin Dog Meat Torture Festival Will Go Ahead Despite Celebrity Pleas". The Huffington Post United Kingdom. AOL (UK) Limited. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  44. ^ "Celebrities join campaign to stop dog meat festival in China". AsiaOne. Singapore Press Holdings Ltd . Co. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2015.