Eating dog’s meat is a common practice in China. Some of the Chinese people go to the extent of having festivals for dog eating. This has resulted to the people being divided along two opinions: the people who eat dog’s meat and those who do not. The practice has sparked a lot of unwanted attention drawing interests from overseas broadcasters as well as newspapers. Some activists against infringement of animal rights have castigated the issue terming it cruelty to animals. However, there are those people who love eating dog’s meat and have their own justifications as to why they do that. It is worth noting that the practice of dog eating is not new not only in China but also in other Asian countries. It can be dated back to centuries.
The Yulin festival marks the annual period when some people eat dog’s meat on mid-summer purporting that there are health benefits associated. That being the case; Yulin’s government has refrained from stepping in claiming that the practice of eating dog’s meat is not illicit. However, the government has asked the restaurants that serve such dishes to cover the term “dog” to prevent the attention of opponents (Sudworth). On the outside, the pressure from the groups that are against the practice has continued to swell up making the issue a bone of contention. This paper, guided by the thesis statement in bold, keenly looks at the issue as a menacing challenge that can terribly divide not only the people of China, but also people in other countries that practice the same, and suggests possible solutions to the issue. Owing to the fact that the practice of eating dog’s meat has attracted various reactions from different groups across the world, there is an urgent need for the problem to be addressed.
According to an article written in the afr.com on 21st of June 2014, eating of dog’s meat in China is based on beliefs, needless say mythical beliefs. A Chinese old wives’ tale gives an account of why children in China were fed with dog’s meat. Some Chinese believed that feeding children with the meat helped improve the function of their kidney and as such it was helpful in toilet training. It is also their belief that dog’s meat helps with warding off colds and warming up the body. People in the southern city of Yulin also believe that eating dog’s meat during the summer solstice that comes on a Saturday brings good fortune and luck to the people. The people of Yulin have made the practice an integral part of their culture creating a festival around the custom that is celebrated annually. During this day, families come together to eat the meat lynches and hot pot and grace it with strong liquor. Statistics shows that last year a number of ten thousand estimated dogs were slaughtered in such celebrations (Lixin).
Attracting a different opinion, early this year a group of celebrities and activists of animal rights that formed the army of citizens in China staged an intensive campaign against the practice and calling out for its shut down. In reaction to the campaign, the backlash supporters of the practice defended it claiming that the practice does not break any laws of China. Consequently, activists and foreigners should not be allowed to poke their noses into their local traditions and customs. These supporters have openly claimed that the campaigners against the old tradition are influenced by Western culture and practice losing their own identity as Chinese. Through a letter to China Daily, one of the dog owners cited that eating or failure to eat dog’s meat was an old custom, and judging traditional practices and customs with modern standards was not applicable (afr.com). The dog owner asked the dog lovers to shun their tendencies to deter others from taking dog’s meat asking them to keep off from dog’s meat themselves and stop forcing other people to do the same thing. On the other hand, the activists of animal rights asserted that the issue is not a matter of preference or respect for traditional customs but the surged demand for dog’s meat has resulted to theft of many pets and rounded up strays. The manner in which the animals are treated before they are also slaughtered raises alarm and the activists for animal rights see it as cruelty to animals (Hayes). The manner in which the dogs are ferried and killed is very ruthless since the people slaughtering them are very heartless inflicting a lot of pain to the animal through the methods of slaughter they use. During the transport to Yulin, the animals are kept in crowded cages where they are starved throughout the entire journey.The animals are the bludgeoned to death before being slaughtered. The activists call this infringement on the rights of animals which forced them to ask the people of Yulin to refrain from eating dog’s meat. The campaigners against dog’s meat also claim that the meat could be infected with diseases like rabies, putting the health of the partakers into jeopardy.
Over the recent years, emergence of like issues related to animals has been on the rise. These include: bear bile extraction and safeguarding stray cats and dogs in the communities. Although the concerted efforts by the activists for animal rights have been intense, their objectives have not yet materialized. Waves of resistance and protests have always had major impacts on the social fabric of the Chinese people but since they are periodical, they come and go. With the extreme opinions, where supporters for dog eating claim the practice to be a traditional custom, while the activists have the modern idea of protection of animal rights, disrupting people from enjoying their delicious dishes, the two are unlikely to reach a compromise unless a third party that is non-partisan steps in quell the conflict and give directions on the best thing to do. This third party could be the government. Why the government? It stands a better chance to quell the conflict since the government will be non-partisan and cannot propose decisions that are meant to harm her very own people. Additionally, the government stands a better chance to be heard by the people and heed its advice than any other group or organization. However, the challenge comes when the government is unwilling to take up the initiative for the fear of seemingly siding with one party and attracting hatred and reactions from the other group. For instance, the government of Yulin has asserted its unwillingness to stop dog eating claiming that the practice does not violate any local laws. This viewed in another dimension can be interpreted to be a legal practice if the law has no clause that illegitimates the practice. The activists have observed it as the government’s safe way of calling the perpetrators of the practice to continue slaying and eating dogs as the government washes hands from being victimized in case of any problem. To support this, the Yulin government asked the owners of the restaurants serving dog’s meat to remove the term from their adverts and menu. The Yulin government could not have done all that if it did not support the practice. The foreign organizations could also help quell the conflict by calling for high profile campaigns against the practice. However, there is one major challenge with this move. The people of China especially those in support of eating dog’s meat will claim that that is foreign interference with the Chinese culture. Being a sovereign country the Chinese voice is louder than the voice of the foreign societies; thus, their efforts would simply prove futile.
At this juncture, doors are not all closed for chances to quell the conflict that is dividing the people of China. Something can be done, and it is good to believe there is a solution for this challenge. The problem is that it has not been discovered, or the stakeholders are not ready to jumpstart the initiative. Well, the Chinese government cannot sit down to watch as the country is torn into two by such a matter with which it holds power to make the best sound decision that favors no one, but it is in the best interest of the people of China. However, the decision of the government will result in either dog’s meat being eaten more or completely banned from human consumption. Being a practice from the old, it will be a bit challenging for the government to decide one day that dog’s meat is illegal in the land. On the other hand, buying the idea of legalizing the practice is against animal rights. This will spark intense reactions not only from local activists but also from international activists. The other option the government t can take is to sit on the fence, neither supports any side that, of course, will not be solving any problem rather it will be making worsening the already bad situation.
When a country is faced with such a controversial issue, it is prudent to involve all the conflicting parties in a dialogue meant to arrive at a compromise. Failure to may see the country torn into two, piling up hatred, and while such a matter is observed as a simple one, it may result to bloodshed when the conflicting sides rise against each other. To that effect, the government can resolve the conflict by coming up with a decision to convene a meeting with the two parties. Each side is let to table their claims as to why they support each side of the argument while the government listens. In the end, based on the arguments raised and considering the decision that is ought to bring a greater good to the nation, the government can rule out a decision on the matter, and the decision published in the governments gazette and implemented by the local courts. The government can settle this dispute amicably because the government can be authoritative and not begging for the mercy of the members of the public. While this may seem dictatorial, with such a controversial issue, it is difficult to impress everyone and send everybody home happy. The toes of some minority can be stepped once in a while for the greater good of the majority. Like noted earlier, a few people who would feel as the government was hard on the can later understand since a sound government can only make decisions meant for the good of its people. Being the supreme body in the land, the government is the only organ that can settle this dispute once and for all. This is because where peaceful dialogue does not bear fruits, dictatorial powers can be applied although not often. But in this matter, dictatorship is inevitably owing to the fact that other methods have till presently proved futile. Maintaining silence on the issue may not be of any help concerning the issue. Thus, the government has to break the silence by issuing a decision that will settle the dispute once and for all. A decision like the one described is feasible since the perpetrators are the government. This is because the government has the power to make such decisions on behalf of its people.
Being increasingly divisive, the issue of eating dog’s meat requires to be handled with a lot of care lest the country is set into wrangles. The presence of a legal vacuum that sheds light on the matter causes the decision of abolishing the practice a major challenge. To that effect, to handle the issue and maintain peace with the people of Yulin, it has to start with a call for dietary change. Moreover, the government can do this by showing the health risk associated with the practice and call for its ban with the impression of safeguarding its people from such risks. Animal activists should also be in a position to respect the diet of other people. Claiming that eating dog’s meat is infringement on animal rights, what about chicken, goats and cows that are common sources of meat. Is it not infringement on animal rights (Farrell)?
In conclusion, the matter on eating dog’s meat in China is a controversial and divisive matter that cannot just be eradicated at a single thought. On the other hand, failure to address the issue may have no substantial effect on quelling the conflict and as such the division continues to escalate. In that case, the government needs to proceed with moderation and regard to the welfare of either side in the decision it arrives at.
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Farrell, Richard. Chinese Dog-Eating Festival Sparks Activists' Ire. 19 June 2014. http://news.discovery.com/animals/pets/chinese-dog-eating-festival-sparks-activists-ire-140619.htm. 23 June 2014.
Hayes, Rupert Wingfield. China's taste for the exotic. 29 June 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/2074073.stm. 23 June 2014.
Lixin, Xiao . To eat, or not to eat dog meat. 13 June 2014. http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2014-06/13/content_17584196.htm. 23 June 2014.
Sudworth, John . Chinese dog-meat dilemma: to eat or not to eat? 21 June 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-27952543. 23 June 2014.