Why China should host the 2019 World Dog Show
The Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival has been attracting criticism ever since its inauguration in 2009, but this year, protests have been especially vocal.
Dog-lovers condemned the festival’s plan to eat up to 15,000 dogs in celebration of the summer solstice. Animal rights activists responded by pointing out that the dog lovers are hypocrites, as most of them eat factory-farmed animals every day.
In turn, this has led to accusations from other parties that the animal-rights activists are hypocrites for caring about factory-farmed animals, while wearing clothes made in sweatshops.
In fact, the only people who seem to have dodged the hypocrite label are the organizers of the actual festival, who have been fairly straightforward about their plans to eat, and keep eating, a lot of dogs.
The cruelty surrounding the Dog Meat Festival is undeniable. Activists report that the dogs eaten at the festival were often stolen family pets, shipped for hundreds of miles in cramped conditions and frequently skinned or boiled alive.
Despite the festival ending on Monday, 22 June, the outrage has not disappeared and a petition to stop China hosting the 2019 World Dog Show (WDS) gained 48,000 signatures in 3 days.
The International Canine Federation (FCI) has released a statement explaining that China will be hosting the show and that ‘the FCI sees it as an excellent opportunity to raise awareness among the Chinese population that the dog, our beloved friend, is a member of our families, a living entity and most of all, Man’s best Friend [sic]’.
If anything, this seems to have inflamed protesters further, with more than 10,000 signing the petition overnight and many claiming that it is hypocritical for China to host the festival. There’s that word again.
The FCI’s statement is patronizing at best and racist at worst (especially that suggestion that Chinese people need to be taught about compassion by enlightened Westerners), but they do make a valid point that China has as much right to host the WDS as any other country.
The protestors’ petition calls for a ‘more compassionate country’ to host the WDS, but where is this lovely sounding place?
Every single country capable of hosting the WDS has some record of animal cruelty: whether it’s the way stray cats and dogs are treated, lack of animal welfare laws or, yes, eating a lot of meat.
Between now and 2019, the countries due to host the WDS include Russia, a country without any animal welfare legislation and where the only form of dog control is mass poisonings by unqualified ‘dog hunters’, and Ecuador, where on the streets of its capital city Quito alone, there are estimated to be more than 190,000 stray dogs.
The Dog Meat Festival has helped fuel outrage over China’s successful bid but – wait for it – it is hypocritical to condemn China while ignoring animal rights abuses in other host nations.
One thing noticeably missing from this debate has been proper acknowledgement of the fact that the Chinese authorities don’t condone the Dog Meat Festival, that Chinese animal rights activists were the first to protest the festival and that Chinese celebrities used their platforms to speak out against animal cruelty.
This was a local festival, confined to a relatively small part of China, but the majority of Western protesters have ignored all the support and solidarity they’ve received from Chinese people themselves.
In the West (and specifically in Britain, where this new petition originated) we are too quick to buy into the notion of China as a heartless, alien nation.
This blatant racism is reflected in the petition’s signatures: ‘We all know the cruel treatment dogs are given in China, absurd that a country like that is even considered!’; ‘After allowing the barbaric festival to carry on, we as a nation of dog lovers will not condone you hosting one of the biggest shows. Hypocrites, I think, is the word I am looking for’ and ‘U are a vile country full of vile people who ’ave no respect for animals.’
The above statements are taken from the top 5 most popular signatures on the petition, as voted for by other people who’ve signed it.
China should be allowed to host the 2019 World Dog Show.
They entered a successful bid, they have acknowledged their own failings when it comes to animal rights (both in the bid and since the festival), they are no better or worse than any other country lining up to host.
But, most importantly, we need to get over the idea that our racist misconceptions about China should be enough to take the WDS away from them.
Help us keep this site free for all
New Internationalist is a lifeline for activists, campaigners and readers who value independent journalism. Please support us with a small recurring donation so we can keep it free to read online.