Controversial dog meat festival begins in China

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Controversial dog meat festival begins in China

The controversial Chinese dog meat festival has started in the Yulin city of China, despite earlier reports of it been cancelled or toned down this year.

There were reports of dead dogs hanging from meat hooks at stalls amid a heavy police presence in Yulin market on Wednesday. The Lychee and Dog Meat festival takes place annually in Guangxi province.

However, US campaigners and activists had claimed that the authorities banned vendors and stallholders from selling dog meat. But stallholders told the BBC they had heard nothing about this from officials. On May 15, city officials confirmed there was no ban.

In previous years there have been many scuffles between stall owners and activists trying to rescue the dogs destined for slaughter. Residents and vendors say the dogs are killed in a humane way and that eating them is no more or less cruel than consuming pork, beef or chicken.

Eating dog is an old tradition in China, South Korea and in some other Asian countries. Consumption of dog meat during summers is said to be beneficial for the human body in Chinese culture. Those in favour of it are upset by foreigners interfering with local traditions.

But critics say the dogs are transported from other cities ahead of the festival and brutally killed. Activists have also alleged that many of the dogs are stolen pets.

It is only since the festival started around 10 years ago that the Yulin city received national and international attention. Protests against the festival come both from abroad and from within China. The number of pet dogs in the country has skyrocketed in recent years with 62 million registered canine companions.

This has gradually changed many people’s opinion on eating dog meat. The Yulin government has repeatedly said that it does not officially organise the festival so cannot prohibit it. Eating dogs is not illegal in China.

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Neha Katoch

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