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It's that time of year again when the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China sets off a global debate on animal welfare and the limits of multicultural tolerance.
China’s most controversial celebration of food, the Lychee and Dog Meat festival in the city of Yulin, was widely reported last month to have been cancelled this year after multiple animal rights organizations claimed the local government was planning a ban on dog meat sales in the week leading up to the June event.
But reports of the festival’s demise, or even a sanction on dog meat sales that could negatively impact the festival, appear to be largely unfounded.
“We have spoken with several people working within the mayor’s office, the food and drug administration and the municipal building and no one seems aware of a Yulin festival ban,” said Jason Baker, Vice President of International Campaigns at PETA.
The festival faces negative press every year, with widespread condemnation from dog lovers worldwide. But in May, animal rights organizations Duo Duo and Humane Society International sensed a breakthrough when they released press releases claiming government officials had said they intended to implement a ban on dog meat in markets, streets and restaurants.
This followed a particularly strong backlash in 2016; a petition bearing 11 million signatures that called for the end of the festival was delivered to the Yulin government, while a celebrity PSA video starring Matt Damon and Rooney Mara that decried the event went viral.
However, in the lead up to the festival -- due to take place on June 23 -- activists who had made a recent trip to Yulin said there was no indication that a government intervention would occur.
“On May 29, I had a sit down meeting with officials in the Yulin government,” said Marc Ching, founder of animal rights organization Animal Hope and Wellness. He said he was told "there is no ban on dog meat sales during the festival as some animal rights groups have claimed."
What's your take on this festival? Is it really so bad to eat dogs?