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Bullfight in Shanghai a mistake
Fei Li  Updated: 2004-10-25 08:55

For some, the past weekend was another milestone on Shanghai's route to becoming a truly international metropolitan city.

A much-publicized series of bull fights was held over the weekend in the city, China's economic hub.

The stadium-turned-bullring cost 5 million yuan (US$605,000) to transform, and both matador and bulls were brought from Spain and Mexico to Shanghai for a bullfight with a truly Spanish flavour, the organizers claimed.

Clearly it was a commercial event, but what some people relish most is the status the bullfight has brought to Shanghai - the first bullfight to have been held in Asia.

To them, it underlines Shanghai's bid to become a world-class metropolitan city.

The ecstasy over the first Formula One Grand Prix, which was held last month and cost the city billions, is still apparent.

The city's preparations are already under way for the upcoming 2010 World Expo.

While it is understandable that Shanghai's ambition to go international, an ambition shared by many other Chinese cities, means some large cultural and sporting events are necessary to promote the city, it should be remembered that all actions be done in a manner that keeps an eye on conditions on the ground.

Cities blindly promoting their image just for the sake of attracting the limelight go against their original intentions.

Literally a dance with death, bullfighting has been characterized by its cruelty and violence, and is now something the civilized world shuns.

Even in its birthplace, Spain, bullfighting, originally a sport reserved for the aristocracy, has never been free of controversy.

Felipe V, king of Spain from 1700 to 1746, banned nobles from taking part in the sport during his reign, fearing its adverse influence on public education.

From then on, commoners took it up.

Barcelona, Spain's second largest city, has taken the lead by banning bullfighting from April 6 this year.

Yet while it is being questioned or banned in its home country, the centuries-old sport may not have expected to find a welcome thousands of miles away.

Bringing in a cruel entertainment that has been widely condemned by civilized society to promote the city's image is more likely to end up bringing shame.

Even if it is used to spur on the local culture or sports market, as some have said, such arguments do not hold much water either.

With tickets costing between 180 yuan (US$22) and 2,800 yuan (US$301), the "virtual feast" is a little bit out of reach for ordinary people, meaning only the relatively affluent can afford to watch the bloody performance anyway.

While animal protection and anti-violence is becoming more fashionable in society, Shanghai's "bravery" in staging this kind of bloodsport betrays itself as one of China's most modern cities.

Rather than a milestone in its bid to become a much-coveted international metropolis status - indeed, the bullfighting episode is more like a slap in the face.

(China Daily)

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