This Friday, China’s barbaric annual dog eating festival will take place in Guangxi province, where buyers peruse dogs displayed in cages before being killed, skinned and cooked.
According to the South China Morning Post, this revolting celebration started several decades ago to mark the summer solstice, and will attract 10,000 people. Dog meat is reportedly not widely eaten in China, but can be found at restaurants across the country, where it is considered a specialty.
“Yulin (the city which holds the festival) is famous for its dog meat, and they serve cat meat too,” said a shop owner, Li Xiaoyun, in the neighboring city of Beihai.
The Telegraph reports the festival has been targeted by protesting animal lovers, and has met with increasing opposition from activists, highlighting China’s growing animal rights movement.
“This year the government has said they feel under pressure from online activism…so they have a special team to monitor the festival,” said Du Yufeng, founder of the activist group the Boai Small Animal Protection Centre. “But the measures were unlikely to prevent the annual feast,” she said.
Du claims the team will reduce the cruelty somewhat, but mostly on the surface, adding: “We have seen animals beaten just before being cooked … the more we inspect, the more cruelty we discover.”
China has no laws in place to protect these dogs and currently does not have any laws to protect any non-endangered animals.
Photographs from past festivals showing dogs packed into cages and locals feasting on their meat from steaming pots have been disseminated on China’s social networking websites, leading thousands to condemn the festival as cruel.
In 2011, a truck transporting over 500 dogs to restaurants in northeastern China was forced off the road by an angry animal lover in a black Mercedes-Benz who spotted the truck on the Beijing highway.
After news of the confrontation hit the Chinese blogosphere, more than 200 animal activists rushed to the highway with water, dog food, and veterinarians, forcing traffic to a standstill in a 15 hour standoff as dozens of police officers were called in.
The Washington Post’s William Wan points out that this event signifies “a battle that has been brewing for years between the rural and the urbanites, the poor and the rich — between China’s dog eaters and its growing number of dog lovers”.
Wan claims the battle between the rural and the urbanites has reignited the specter of class warfare — “a common meme in modern China amid the widening gap between rich and poor. In online debates, many have noted the symbolic nature of the confrontation: a working trucker forced off the road by a black Mercedes-Benz whose driver was on his way to a resort hotel with his girlfriend”.
During the Cultural Revolution in China, having a pet was seen as a capitalist activity, notes Jiang Jinsong, a philosophy professor at Tsinghua University.
“Only the rich and arrogant had dogs and allowed them to bite poor people,” he said. “So there’s this implication that if you treated pets well, you will treat those who are weaker badly.”