Animal rights activists around the world are celebrating an alleged move that could bring the infamous Yulin Dog Meat Festival to a close. Could.
The Humane Society International (HSI) and California-based animal rights group the Duo Duo Animal Welfare Project have issued a joint statement claiming that the local government of Yulin will ban the sale of dog meat by restaurants, vendors and traders one week before the city’s notorious annual festival opens on June 21st.
According to the animal rights activists, the historic move is being championed by the Guangxi city’s newly appointed Communist Party secretary, Mo Gongming. Those who violate the ban, which is allegedly scheduled to come into effect on June 15th, will be subject to arrest and fines of up to 100,000 yuan. HSI claims that three local traders have confirmed the ban.
While this may seem like welcome news for dog lovers, it’s important to note that the report has not been confirmed by the local government or official state media (where it would make for some great positive propaganda). Vendors in Yulin told the BBC that they had heard nothing about the ban and were convinced that they would continue to be allowed to openly sell dog meat.
“Banning the sales of dog meat? I’ve not heard of it,” the owner of a popular dog meat restaurant in the city told the BBC. “Whoever wants to eat will continue to eat. Why is dog meat any different from other meat anyway?”
Each summer since 2010, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival has been met with increasing opposition. Last year, a petition calling for an end to the festival where thousands of dogs are slaughtered each year received an unprecedented 11 million signatures. Meanwhile, Chinese celebs have joined international stars like Matt Damon and Leona Lewis in speaking out against the festival.
Thanks to that domestic and international pressure, the festival has scaled back in recent years. The Yulin government has forbidden government employees from attending the festival and has shut down some dog markets and slaughterhouses around the city. To keep things even more low-key, last year the public slaughter of dogs was banned and vendors were instructed to cover up the character for “dog” on their signboards. Still, in the end, the festival went on as usual.
While animal rights activists have noted that the success of this alleged measure will all depend on government enforcement, they are still happy to celebrate a “milestone victory to end brutal mass slaughter of dogs.”
“The Yulin dog meat festival is not over just yet, but if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolize China’s crime-fueled dog meat trade,” said Peter Li, China Policy Expert at HSI.
Andrea Gung, executive director of Duo Duo Project agreed:
Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade. I have visited Yulin many times in the last two years. This ban is consistent with my experience that Yulin and the rest of the country are changing for the better. I am very impressed that the younger generation in Yulin and in China is as compassionate as their counterparts in the rest of world. Duo Duo Project also wants to congratulate Mr. Mo Gong Ming, Yulin’s new Party Secretary, for his progressive and visionary leadership. I hope this will turn out to be the beginning of the end of the dog eating habit in China.
Though, perhaps she shouldn’t get her hopes up too much.
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat