The Horrors of Yulin Festival in China

The Horrors of Yulin Festival in China

One city in China has a festival that is in the center of controversy and it is the Lychee and Dog Meat festival / Photo by: PanShiBo via Wikimedia Commons


Festivals are supposed to be celebrated with fun and positiveness. It helps people keep connected to their culture, roots, values, and origin. This is also a perfect time to come together, celebrate, and embrace good hopes. However, that's not the case in one of the festivals celebrated in China. 

For a long time, dogs are viewed and treated as companions or protectors across the world. But in some countries, they suffer as victims of dog meat trade for human consumption. In fact, reports from Human Society International show that about 30 million dogs are being killed that often involves cruelty.

Most of the time, hundreds of dogs are placed tightly in cages that they are unable to move. They are driven for days or weeks, often injured or sick. Some of them die from dehydration, heatstroke, and suffocation before they reach their destination. Eventually, all these dogs will end up at a slaughterhouse, market or restaurant where they will be killed for human consumption. 

Yulin Festival in China

Every year, thousands of dogs are killed and tortured for the Yulin Festival in China. This kind of festival have already reached the international media and widely criticized all over the world. In fact, about 10 million dogs are being eaten in China every year, according to the reports of Animals Asia. 

This ten-day event called the Yulin “Lychee and Dog Meat” festival takes place in Yulin, a city in the Guangxi province of China. According to a Chinese folklore, dog eating brings luck and good health. It is also believed that dog meat can heighten men's sexual performance and can ward off diseases. In an article by the Express, Wang Yue, a resident of Yulin said, “Yulin’s so-called lychee and dog meat festival is just a popular custom of ours. Popular customs themselves cannot be right or wrong. Those scenes of bloody dog slaughter that you see online, I want to say that the killing of any animal will be bloody. I hope people can look at this objectively.”

Since dog meat is legal in China which can actually be traced back at least 400 years, their government has no power to stop them. Although the trend towards caring for animal companions are rising in the country, stopping this tradition that is rooted in their culture has been difficult to stop. 

The tradition was done for 400 years that even the modern day government cannot stop the tradition / Photo by: Dong Fang via Wikimedia Commons


The Controversy Faced by the Festival

Yulin festival has attracted numerous criticisms not just in China but also in many organizations and countries around the world. Since dog meat trade has been associated with animal cruelty, activists see this festival as morally wrong, inhuman and unhygienic. Although a lot of people defend the festival, Human Society International stated that it was "manufactured" by the dog meat trade. The organization also insisted that dog meat is not part of mainstream food culture in China. 

Nationwide calls to boycott or cancel the festival provoked accusations that activists were just disturbing public order. However, the fight still continues. In fact, a university professor from the South China University of Technology said, "The messy slaughter of numerous dogs transported to Yulin without inspection severely damages popular custom, public order, and the environment."

The Crackdown

Although the practice of dog meat trade for human consumption still continues in China, it is becoming increasingly polarizing. A lot of young people from China have expressed their disbelief and opposition to the festival.

A recent report from the Plant-Based News showed that there was a crackdown at the Yulin Festival and the event had been canceled. Jason Baker, Vice President of International Campaigns of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said that no one in the city seems to be aware of a Yulin festival ban.

However, the Chinese partners of the Humane Society International have seen a crackdown where the traders were told to close down their stands. HSI's Chinese activist partner, Sean Long said, "It doesn’t look like business as usual at Dongkou market in Yulin. It’s disappointing to see dog meat still on sale, but nothing like the amount we’ve seen in the past." But some vendors still believe that they will be allowed again to sell dog meat. 

It was also reported that the Yulin police department has made a temporary office for daily inspections to enforce the order. They were eager to monitor the situation. Dr. Peter Li, HSI’s China policy specialist expressed how glad he was to see Yulin authorities imposing the dog meat ban. 

Widespread outrage has been heard from thousands of people across the world to the Yulin festival. Concern for animals and their welfare is becoming a major issue. Thus, arises public's determination to force positive change. Support and petitions are now reaching millions of people, pressuring Yulin to permanently cancel the dog eating festival. 

The festival was becoming a polarizing issue in China and attracted many protests around the world / Photo by: Max Pixel