Lychee and Dog Meat Festival
|Lychee and Dog Meat Festival|
|Inaugurated||21 June 2009|
|Most recent||21 June 2018|
|Previous event||21 June 2017|
|Next event||21 June 2019|
The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, commonly referred to as Yulin Dog Meat Festival, is an annual celebration held in Yulin, Guangxi, China, during the summer solstice in which festival goers eat dog meat and lychees. The festival begun in 2009 and spans about ten days during which it is estimated that 10,000–15,000 dogs are consumed. The festival has been criticised by animal welfare and animal rights supporters.
The tradition of dog meat consumption began over 4000 years ago in China. Chinese practitioners of folk medicine believe that dog meat would help ward off the heat felt through the summer months. It wasn't until recent years that the festival in Yulin began.
The festival is celebrated annually in Yulin, Guangxi, China, during the summer solstice in June, by eating dog meat and lychees. About 10,000 to 15,000 dogs are consumed during the 10 days of the festival. This number has decreased to 1,000 in 2015. Throughout the 10 days of festivities, dogs are paraded in wooden crates and metal cages and are taken to be skinned and cooked for consumption by festival visitors and local residents.
Animal welfare concerns
The local residents and festival organizers claim that the dogs are killed humanely and that "eating dog is no different from eating pork or beef". Animal rights activists and campaigners, however, claim that the animals are "treated cruelly", based on photographs of the event, which are available online. Many dogs suffer before being killed, there are videos of dogs being beaten to death with metal bars, skinned alive, boiled alive and suffer many diseases. A witness claimed that some of the dogs eaten appeared to be stolen household pets, judging by their collars.
A retired school teacher, Yang Xiaoyun, paid ¥150,000 to rescue 360 dogs and dozens of cats from the festival in 2014, and ¥7,000 to rescue 100 dogs in 2015. She was later accused by animal welfare advocates of fraud and animal abuse. However it has been discovered that these rumours were started by a UK charity to withhold the £100,000 plus they had collected in donations using her name.
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.
In 2017, over 1,300 dogs were rescued by an organization called No Dog Left Behind. 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. 40% of dogs also carried infectious diseases.
Millions of Chinese 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. Chinese celebrities such as Fan Bingbing, Chen Kun, Sun Li and Yang Mi have publicly expressed a distaste for the festival.
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.
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.
An editorial published by Global Times strongly criticized what the writer believed to be the Western obsession over the treatment of dogs, and cited bullfighting as an example of animal cruelty to which the West has turned a blind eye. He further categorised the controversy as a part of a Western campaign against China, and dismissed criticism and protests as "non-noteworthy".
Campaigns have had a significant 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 "#stopyulinforever", "#stopyulin2015", and "#stopyulin2016" to spread the word. Because of the social media campaigns, the number of dogs slaughtered has steadily decreased since 2013 to 1,000 in 2016.
In an interview with The New York Times, professor Peter J. Li of the University of Houston–Downtown said in response to the claim that dog meat promoters accused Chinese activists of introducing a harmful Western ideology into China that opposition to eating dog meat at the festival began with the Chinese themselves, as "the bond between companion animals and humans is not Western. It's a transcultural phenomenon".
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.
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."
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." 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".
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".
In June 2015, an online petition against the festival was started in the United Kingdom, gathering over 4 million signatures. It was reported in 2016 that Humane Society International organised a petition in opposition to the dog eating festival which was signed by 11 million people worldwide.
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. The resolution was supported the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Humane Society International. In 2017, Hastings reintroduced, alongside 49 original co-sponsors, his 2016 bipartisan resolution through House Resolution 30.
Celebrities including Ken Todd, Lisa Vanderpump, Ricky Gervais, George Lopez, Ian Somerhalder, Leona Lewis, Lori Alan, Tom Kenny, and Rob Zombie have publicly expressed a distaste for the festival.
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