06/22/2018, 00.00
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Yulin’s dog meat festival marks summer solstice

The event is held every year from 21 to 30 June. About 10,000 dogs are butchered for the occasion. Some question the festival’s appropriateness as well as its hygiene. For their part, animal rights activists have targeted it for criticism.

Yulin (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Yulin dog meat festival opened yesterday. Every year people celebrate the summer solstice in this city of Guangxi province by eating dog meat and lychees.

The festival lasts ten days and an estimated 10,000 dogs are butchered for the occasion. Chicken, pork knuckles and cow tongue are also on the menu.

Animal rights groups have targeted the festival for years, claiming that it is not a popular Chinese tradition but rather an invention of dog breeders.

In the past years, activists have broken into slaughterhouses and stopped trucks loaded with dogs in order to free them. The butchering methods have also come close scrutiny for the poor hygiene.

This year’s festival seems to be a bit subdue. Instead of being butchered before the eyes of patrons and customers, the animals are killed outside the city. At the festival venue, stalls can show at most two dog carcasses.

One woman who bought a full dog for 662 yuan (US$ 102) said that she plans to eat it with her family to celebrate the summer solstice.

“It’s very tasty,” said another local, insisting that “they’re all strays — strays and pets are different”.

“Yulin’s so-called lychee and dog meat festival is just a popular custom of ours. Popular customs themselves cannot be right or wrong,” Yulin resident Wang Yue said.

Local authorities tolerate the festival and are not involved in the event’s organisation; however, they have deployed more law enforcement agents to prevent tensions between traders and activists.

The latter, however, have understood that it is more effective to put pressure on government authorities rather than to create unrest at the festival.

Zhang Huahua, a professor at South China University of Technology, complained to Yulin authorities that the festival violated environmental protection regulations.

“The messy slaughter of numerous dogs transported to Yulin without inspection severely damages public order, popular custom and the environment,” Zhang said in a letter seen by a news agency.

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