Updated: Jun 14
In this article, the first article of a six-part series on the infamous Yulin Dog Meat Festival, we examine the origins of the festival and how it has progressed over the past 12 years.
In subsequent articles, we will explore the mass illegality that underpins this horrendous event, and the domestic and international response to the Yulin Festival. We will wrap up with some ways you can get involved and help end this cruel and inhumane event and trade for good.
HISTORY OF THE YULIN FESTIVAL
The Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, commonly known as the “Yulin Festival”, is an annual “festival” held in Yulin, a city in the Guangxi province in south-west China.The festival is held on the lunar summer solstice day every year. This year, 2021, it will be held on 6/21.
Beginning in 2009, this now annual event was initially promoted by dog-meat traders and dog-meat restaurants, in conjunction with the local government, as a tourism initiative to drive revenue to an otherwise poor, rural city in one of the less-prosperous provinces in mainland China.
The “festival” was met with immediate outcry and has since remained an extremely divisive event. Since its inception, there has been a huge amount of domestic and international outcry and support to end the “festival”, facing off against the fervent support of the local population who defend the “festival” on grounds of tradition, and the dog-meat traders and restaurants who share a vested interest in keeping the festival alive.
The number of dogs slaughtered and eaten during the Yulin festival has changed over the 11 years of its barbaric existence.
But the largest reported number of dogs eaten during the Yulin Festival is over 10,000, and more recently, we believe this has decreased to a little under 3,000.
This indicates that there is a reason to hope that the festival will eventually be cancelled.
We will examine these numbers more closely in a forthcoming article in the Yulin series, but it is important to note that what happens in Yulin is not an isolated event that happens once a year.
Dog meat is eaten daily in Yulin.
The annual festival represents a marked increase in dog-meat activity, but dogs are stolen and transported for hundreds of miles in horrendous conditions to Yulin where they are slaughtered and eaten every day of the year.
Despite these atrocities, there is hope.
A 2017 study found that the dog eating practice itself is not widely popular in Yulin. Nearly 75% of Yulin residents had not ever eaten dog meat, despite the efforts of the dog-meat trade to promote it.
On a broader scale, almost 70 per cent of people polled across China had never eaten dog meat, and there is a large amount of support for ending not only the festival, but also the dog meat trade itself. While the same is true of cat meat, the cat meat trade is not, and has not ever been, as large and pervasive as the dog meat trade.
Notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, coupled with both the decree declaring dogs as companion animals not livestock, and the temporary ban on live and wet markets, the Yulin festival was still held in 2020 on a much smaller scale.
The fact that the “festival” still happened should give us an indication of just how little regard the local Yulin government has for the health and welfare of dogs, and also the health and safety of the people attending the festival.
Not surprisingly, given how powerful the local traders are, we expect that the Yulin festival will again take place in 2021, similar to the size and scope of the 2020 festival.
While every year has seen a smaller number of dogs killed, we believe even one dog being slaughtered for meat is one dog too many.
Join us in the movement to stop the Yulin Festival forever.
Together, we will end the dog meat trade for good.