China's Controversial Yulin Dog Meat Festival Goes Ahead Despite New Law
A controversial dog meat festival held in China every year has gone ahead, despite a new law and condemnation from activists.
The event was held in Yulin on Sunday (21 June) even though the country recently brought in a ruling that classified dogs as companions instead of livestock - although it did not explicitly prohibit eating them.
Activists called on local authorities to take action against people selling dog meat.
The festival runs for 10 days in the southwestern city and usually attracts thousands of people. Dogs are typically held in cages at the marketplace, with customers able to peruse them in aisles.
Campaigners are hoping this will be the last year the festival will run and are pressuring the Chinese government to confirm its stance on the matter.
The Humane Society International reported that 10 'friendly and innocent' puppies were rescued that were to be sold for meat at a market outside Yulin. Traders could also be seen chopping up dog carcasses.
It's also been reported that the dog meat stalls and shops that were once scattered around the city have now been consolidated into one central area - the Nanchao market on the outskirts of Yulin.
Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for Humane Society International, said: "The Yulin authorities may want to keep a closer eye on all the dog meat trade activity by centralising it more or less at one market, possibly because of the increasingly controversial nature of the dog meat business.
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"While some traders told the activists they were doing as much business as possible to make up for lack of sales from January to March due to the coronavirus, others reported that it is now harder to acquire live dogs from outside Guangxi province due to the government's crackdown on trans-provincial animal transport.
"Instead of the huge slaughter trucks of previous years bringing in thousands of dogs at a time, they say it is more common now to see small truckloads of mostly locally sourced dogs from nearby towns."
The tide is slowly changing in China in regards to dog meat. The city of Shenzhen recently banned the sale and human consumption of dog and cat meat among its 12.5 million population. Lawmakers identified that the ruling is a 'universal civilisation requirement for a modern society'.
A spokesperson for the Shenzhen government said: "Dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries and in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
"This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilisation."
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, China put a temporary ban on wild animal markets to prevent people from being infected.
The country has promised to look at the ban once the pandemic settles down to see if it should be upgraded to permanent.
Featured Image Credit: Humane Society International