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Dog meat festival under way amid row

BBC News logo BBC News 2015-06-22

Vendors wait for customers to buy dogs in cages at a market in Yulin, in southern China"s Guangxi province on June 21, 2015.: The festival began a few years ago according to state media. © AFP The festival began a few years ago according to state media.

An annual dog meat festival in south-west China has begun, amid uproar on the part of animal rights activists.

About 10,000 dogs will be slaughtered for their meat at the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin in Guangxi province on Sunday and Monday to mark the summer solstice, state media said.

Activists say the killing is cruel and have held protests, campaigned online and even saved dogs by buying them.

Residents and vendors in Yulin say the animals are killed in a humane way.

An online campaign to ban the festival has been signed by more than 3.8 million people so far.

Celebrities including British comedian Ricky Gervais have spoken out on Twitter with the hashtag #StopYuLin2015.


The tradition of eating dog meat dates back four or five hundred years in China, South Korea and other countries, as it is believed to ward off the heat of the summer months, according to state news agency Xinhua.

However, this festival began in recent years, Xinhua said.

City officials have distanced themselves from the gathering. "Some residents of Yulin have the habit of coming together to eat lychees and dog meat during the summer solstice," the city's news office wrote on micro blogging site Sina Weibo.

"The 'summer solstice lychee and dog meat festival' is a commercial term, the city has never [officially] organised a 'dog meat festival'," it added.

As in recent years, some animal lovers resorted to buying some of the dogs in order to rescue them.

Local media reported that Yang Xiaoyun paid about 7,000 yuan ($1,100; £710) to save 100 dogs on Saturday.

Animal lover Yang Xiaoyun (L) uses a mobile phone next to a cage accommodating dogs which she purchased from dog vendors to rescue them from dog meat dealers at a temporary shelter ahead of a local dog meat festival in Yulin, Guangxi Autonomous Region, June 21, 2015.: Yang Xiaoyun kept the dogs in a temporary shelter after saving them from the meat vendors © Reuters Yang Xiaoyun kept the dogs in a temporary shelter after saving them from the meat vendors

The BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing says this kind of dispute puts the government in a really difficult position. The glorified consumption of dog meat generates a lot of negative foreign media reports, embarrassing the authorities. Also, the dog meat industry has been accused of many underhand tactics, including the illegal capture of family pets to use as food.

But at the same time, the government is wary of the increasingly sophisticated animal rights movement, she adds. Animal rights activists in China have formed a cohesive network on social media that extends to many foreign animal welfare groups. China's leaders do not want to encourage such a movement amid a wider crackdown on civil disturbance of any kind.

Vendors wait for customers to buy dogs in cages at a market in Yulin, in southern China"s Guangxi province on June 21, 2015.: The festival began a few years ago according to state media. © AFP The festival began a few years ago according to state media.
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