[Thousands of dogs are slaughtered and served in restaurants in Yulin, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, for the festival, which is set to begin on June 21. Its proponents defend the practice as an expression of cultural heritage and argue that eating dogs is no different from eating cows or turkeys.]
By Shaojie Huang
Dogs on sale at a marketplace in Yulin during the city’s dog meat festival last
year. Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times
BEIJING — Two weeks before the annual dog meat festival in the southern Chinese city of Yulin, an international coalition of animal welfare advocates is stepping up pressure on the Chinese government to shut it down.
A petition with more than 11 million signatures was presented to the Chinese Embassy in London on Tuesday, according to Humane Society International, one of the organizations behind the campaign.
Representatives of the group, which is based in Washington, along with Chinese animal rights advocates, plan to present the petition to officials in Beijing on Friday, said Peter J. Li, a China policy adviser to Humane Society International. He said about 30 campaigners would gather at the Beijing office of the government of Yulin, where the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival has taken place on the summer solstice since 2010 amid mounting controversy. Copies of the petition will be sent by registered mail to health and food safety regulators.
Thousands of dogs are slaughtered and served in restaurants in Yulin, in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, for the festival, which is set to begin on June 21. Its proponents defend the practice as an expression of cultural heritage and argue that eating dogs is no different from eating cows or turkeys.
But images of dogs being beaten and gutted in Yulin marketplaces have ignited outrage around the world, as celebrities and politicians throw their support behind efforts to stop the festival. In China, where dogs are increasingly viewed as companions, not food, animal welfare advocates have raised questions about the sources of the dogs, charging that many are stolen pets.
A commentary on Monday in People’s Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, by Chang Jiwen, a legal scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and two of his students, Liu Kai and Guo Shunzhen, cited results of a survey posted on the website of CCTV, China’s national broadcaster, where 64 percent of respondents agreed that eating dogs should be banned.
In an email, Mr. Li said that he expected millions more to join the global call by June 21, and that “China will score a huge reputation-improvement score” if its government shut down the event.
The petition on the website of Humane Society International addresses President Xi Jinping, saying that by ending the festival, “you will clearly show your leadership in protecting the well-being of both people and animals, and demonstrate that China’s global reputation as a progressive nation will not be besmirched by such activities.”
The animal welfare groups Raise UR Paw and Duo Duo, as well as Care2 and Avaaz, have also posted the petition.
The effort to end the Yulin festival has extended as far as the United States Congress. Last month, Representative Alcee L. Hastings, Democrat of Florida, introduced a resolution condemning the festival and urging China to enforce its food safety regulations and enact laws banning animal cruelty.
The protests, and shifting attitudes in China, appear to have had some effect. In 2014, the Yulin government distanced itself from the festival, saying it was staged by private business people and did not have official backing.
“The slaughter frenzy went down in 2013, 2014 and further down in 2015,” said Mr. Li, based on his visits to the city over the years. “The dog meat industry in Yulin and in the entire country is shrinking.”