China / Society

Southern dog meat festival damages China's reputation overseas, survey finds

By SU ZHOU (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-18 07:17

A recent poll has found more than half of Chinese want to see an end to China's dog meat festival in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, saying it tarnishes China's image.

The poll was conducted by Chinese polling company Horizon, and was commissioned by the China Animal Welfare Association in collaboration with Humane Society International and Avaaz.

Horizon found that 69.5 percent of Chinese said they have never eaten dog meat, 64 percent support the end of the Yulin festival, 62 percent think the Yulin festival damages China's image and 51.7 percent said the dog meat trade should be completely banned.

However, the result defers significantly between respondents from within and outside the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. For example, when asked "whether the central government should pass legislation to outlaw the dog meat trade", nearly 56 percent of respondents from outside Guangxi voted yes while only 16 percent of respondents from Guangxi agreed.

More than 55 percent of respondents from Guangxi think the Yulin festival does not damage how China is perceived internationally, while more than 67 percent from outside Guangxi think the opposite.

The festival in Yulin will be held on June 21, but it has met increased opposition in recent years amid concerns over canine cruelty and unhygienic food handling practices.

Qin Xiaona, director of the Capital Animal Welfare Association, said the vibrant campaign to end the Yulin dog meat festival is rooted in Chinese opposition to the event, supported by people from around the world who agree that this cruel trade must not be tolerated.

"It is embarrassing to us that the world wrongly believes that the brutally cruel Yulin festival is part of Chinese culture. It isn't and as we see in this poll, most people here don't eat dogs and believe that the festival damages China's global reputation," she said, adding that more than 80 percent of the dogs are stolen pets, according to research by her association.

Peter Li, China policy specialist at Humane Society International, said that over the past few years, as calls to end Yulin's dog meat event have gained momentum, local governments have responded by disassociating themselves from dog-eating festivals.

A dog-meat fan from Guangxi, who refused to be named, said eating dog meat in Guangxi is just like eating beef or lamb in other places.

"Besides, it is my right. Dog is not an endangered wild animal," he said. "I don't think some people should force other people to share the same passion toward certain animals."

However, he said pet owners have the right to protect their dogs from being stolen or poisoned.

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