Dog meat festival goes ahead despite international outcry
Restaurateurs in a southern Chinese town held an annual dog meat festival yesterday despite international criticism of the event as cruel and unhygienic.
The Yulin government distanced itself from the festival and announced new restrictions, but eateries reported brisk business during the event held to mark the summer solstice.
Restaurant owners say eating dog meat is traditional during the summer, while animal rights activists say the festival was merely invented to drum up business.
As many as 10,000 dogs, many of them stolen pets, are slaughtered for the festival held deep inside the largely rural and poor Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Apparently concerned about the adverse publicity, the local government said authorities would tightly control public order and punish any incidents of stealing or poisoning dogs. Traders would no longer be permitted to slaughter dogs in public, place carcasses on display or serve meals outdoors, it said.
Despite such restrictions, restaurant owners said the festival continued to attract enthusiasts for the dish. "Eating dog meat is a local tradition, it has nothing to do with the local government," said a receptionist at the Longmen Dog Meat Restaurant.
Celebrities such as British comedian Ricky Gervais and Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen have called for an end to the festival, and more than three million people have signed petitions protesting it.