A controversial dog meat festival is set to start next week in China, once again raising the ire of local and international activists and animal rights groups.
The so-called “Lychee and dog meat festival” is held each year in the southern Chinese city of Yulin, located in the autonomous Guangxi region that borders Vietnam.
Activists in China, who last year intercepted at least one shipment of dogs bound for slaughter, have been urging local authorities to leverage COVID-19 restrictions to shut down the festival.
“While elsewhere in China, cities are in COVID-19 lockdown, it makes no sense for Yulin dog meat traders to be allowed to encourage visitors to travel across the province and into the city,” Guangxi-based activist Liang Jia said in a Humane Society statement. “As well as the appalling animal cruelty that will take place with thousands of dogs and cats bludgeoned to death, it’s an obvious public health risk.”
“The Yulin authorities should be taking this seriously because it would be hugely embarrassing for the Yulin dog meat festival to become a super-spreader event,” Liang added.
The festival was launched in 2010 in an attempt by dog meat traders to counter flagging sales, according to the Humane Society International.
Though attendance at the 10-day festival has decreased in recent years due to COVID restrictions, the festival has reportedly rounded up some 10,000 dogs for slaughter at its height.
A draft policy issued by China’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs in 2020 named dogs a “special companion animal,” not recognized as livestock, the Guardian reported.
While that policy did not have the full weight of law, it was welcomed by animal rights activists in China and beyond.
That same year, Chinese state-run media reported that 75% of Chinese citizens nationwide supported a decision by the southern city of Shenzhen to ban the consumption of canine meat.
According to the Humane Society International, 30 million dogs are killed each year for food worldwide.