Dear YuLin Governor Chen Wu:
We are writing you to request that the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region government must cancel the “Dog Meat Festival” that is held on June 21 in Yulin. As foreigners who have great respect for the Chinese people and Chinese civilization, We are saddened to learn that the Yulin “Dog Meat Festival” still exists in a modern civilized society. We believe that this event has no place in the 21st century. We adamantly voice our strong opposition to this barbaric “festival” for the following five reasons:
First, China is the country with the second largest number of rabies cases in the world. The Yulin government itself admitted in 2007 that the city was one of the hardest hit by rabies outbreaks. According to a news report (http://gx.news.163.com/07/0102/14/33RCB62S006300CU.html), 338 rabies cases were reported in Yulin between 2002 and 2006. All of the infected people died from this disease. The annual economic cost to Yulin amounted to 6.67 million Yuan. Based on the toll the disease is taking on the health of the city’s residents, the authorities in Yulin should be doing everything they can to prevent the spread of the disease. Dogs transported for days in crowded conditions to Yulin, with compromised immunity systems, are known to be vulnerable to the spread of illnesses. Allowing the “Dog Meat Festival” to continue is a sign of a lack of vigilance at the very least. Given the national government’s policy on rabies prevention and control, it might even be construed as wanton contempt and total negligence of the public. In the interest of public health, disease prevention, and enforcement of the national government’s policies, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region government should put an end to the event.
Second, the “Dog Meat Festival” can potentially undermine social stability, aggravate existing social conflicts, and sabotage the central government’s efforts to build a harmonious society. A significant number of the dogs sold on the market, according to Chinese activist investigations, are stolen household pets or are watch dogs of rural families. The recent retaliative, brutal assault on dog thieves by victims of dog theft indicates the potentially explosive nature of confrontations between dog owners and the dog meat industry. Frankly, the violent action by the villagers in Guangxi was a reaction to the fact that local law enforcement had long failed to protect the interest of the dog owners. Allowing the “Dog Meat Festival” to continue is like endorsing dog theft, which supplies the dog meat industry. It could seriously damage the authority of the government and the credibility of state laws. If dog theft continues, violent confrontations between dog owners and animal lovers and the dog meat industry will escalate and intensify, potentially leading to mass unrest. The government can prevent such a situation from developing by ending the Yulin “Dog Meat Festival.”
Third, the Yulin “Dog Meat Festival” is a dangerous food safety issue. Dogs sold on the market are sick and dying animals. They suffer from horrendous conditions during the long distance, trans-provincial journeys. China does NOT have dog farms. There are no national or local standards to ensure the safety of dog meat since dogs are not raised for food. Sick or contaminated dogs can pass illnesses to humans in the course of transport, slaughter, and food preparations. It has also been reported that some dogs have been poisoned during their capture and carry toxins in their body. The govenment cannot afford to ignore this public health issue. It is therefore imperative for the government to shut down the “Dog Meat Festival” and prevent the onset of a SARS-like disease and massive deaths.
Fourth, the Yulin “Dog Meat Festival” exposes young people to violence. During the festival, the streets of Yulin flow with dog blood, since dogs are often slaughtered in public. Have the dog meat dealers ever considered the reaction of the people who walk by? Have they ever considered the feelings of the young children who witness the brutality on their way to school? The wanton imposition of bloody scenes on the public can cause severe mental distress and psychological trauma to people, particularly school children. Studies have long shown that exposure to violence can desensitize youth and cause them to later commit acts of cruelty and abuse. The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region government and its official Women Federation are obligated to stand up and to protect the young people from being forced to witness this brutal spectacle.
Fifth, although the “Dog Meat Festival” has been promoted as a local “folk custom,” it is not really a local culinary culture. It is a commercial activity masquerading as a regional tradition. No culture or local custom is a defense of a practice that runs counter to human progress. Despite strong resistance, foot-binding, opium-smoking, and arranged marriage -- so-called Chinese traditional practices -- were ended without jeopardizing the Chinese culture. In fact, Chinese civilization has since experienced a spirited rejuvenation and China’s pace of progress has not been slowed one bit. To glorify the Chinese culture, the government must eliminate outdated practices that represent forces of the past and that damage the reputation of the mainstream Chinese culture.
Finally, Guangxi has breathtaking natural beauty that attracts millions of domestic and international tourists. The Yulin “Dog Meat Festival” is internationally perceived as a disgrace to this region. In June 2013, the festival was condemned by more than 40,000 people around the world within a short span of a few days. The event has already tarnished the reputation of Guangxi and will have a negative consequence on commerce and on the tourism industry.
We appeal to you to act in the interest of public health, food safety, child welfare, and the reputation of Guangxi and China. The Yulin “Dog Meat Festival” is not a regional “folk custom.” It is a business operation that undermines the national and public interest. The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region government is at a historical juncture. The “Dog Meat Festival” must end.
Mr. Li Keqiang
Prime Minister, State Council, People's Republic of China
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Agriculture
State General Administration of Food and Drug
State Commission of Public Health and Family Planning
Ministry of Public Security
State General Administration of Tourism