Eating dog meat is not a Chinese tradition and the Yulin “dog-meat” festival is just a money-making scheme carried out and excused under the banner of culture and tradition
This notion is enhanced and made more believable mainly due to the portrayal of the practice in the film Shaolin Temple. It was helped further by over-promoting Yulin restaurant owners and local officials.
Even China's reluctance to outright forbid dog meat only serves to give their arguments some sort of legitimacy. During the 1999 move "In China, they eat dogs" The title is a reference to an axiom.
As one brother explains to the other brother that there is no such thing as moral absolutism. That the notion of whether something is right or wrong depends on the situation.
The Yulin Festival Is BornIn 2009, Yulin, a city in southwest China’s Guangxi province created the festival to boost the local economy. To promote the importance of the festival, they claimed that they were honoring China's long history of eating Dog. What they never envisioned was the worldwide condemnation for their money-making scheme.
The local government never expecting that its commercial activities would come under such heavy pressure from dog lovers. Nevertheless, the outrage around China, let alone the world was Earth shattering. The officials tried to backtrack from their participation, even attempting to push the slaughtering into the back rooms. China mistakingly believed this would calm the outrage if their butchery was done under the cover of night.
Yulin and China tried to not only cover up the slaughter they went so far as to declare that the Chinese sign for Dog stricken from the local restaurant menus and awnings. But local restaurants started refusing and even outright opposing these restrictions. Yulin government officials started claiming that the whole affair was run by local business people in an attempt to avoid responsibility.
China’s history of dog-eating at least 7,000 years, archaeologists say, Dogs have been a part of Chinese households. The mythological ruler Fu Xi was said to have domesticated six wild animals: the pig, ox, goat, horse, fowl, and dog, indicating that dogs were often kept even in ancient times.
Records show that back then, dogs were kept not for eating, but mainly to assist their masters with hunting and as loyal companions. As the Chinese people became more engaged with agriculture, the dog’s role as hunter became less important. But it was by no means cast aside, in fact, it's loyalty shown to its owner made it valued as a guard dog.
Those who are claiming that eating dog somehow maintains the Chinese tradition, tell of “dog butchers” who specialized in preparing the meat. Others quote from works by the founder of the Han dynasty Liu Bang and Qing dynasty. They use painter Zheng Banqiao as proof that the Chinese have always enjoyed dog meat. These talking points are not enough to prove it is a tradition or custom.
Selective MemoriesThe San Zi Jing, written in the 13th century and attributed to Wang Yinglin. In it, it reads Horse, ox, sheep, chicken, dog, pig these six animals are those which people raise. This is generally taken to mean that these animals were a source of meat.
But as agriculture developed, and eating habits changed cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs became the main sources of meat for Chinese people. Dogs gradually stopped being used as food.
Prior to the Qin (256-202 B.C.E.) and Han (202 B.C.E.-220 C.E.) dynasties. The combination of primitive agricultural techniques and constant war meant living standards were low and meat a rare luxury. Offered primarily to the elderly as a sign of respect. Beasts of burden and guard dogs which died of illness or old age could not be wasted, so China's thrifty ancestors would cook the meat.
In China's long history Dog meat was never considered a worthy meat. In ancient times offerings to the Gods were important and great attention to detail was given when any offering was presented. For the grandest of imperial ceremonies, a cow or horse would be sacrificed. For less important occasions a pig or sheep.
The ordinary people would be offered pork, chicken or fish. But the dog was almost never used, and it was regarded as disrespectful to the spirits to do so. The dog fell increasingly out of favor after the Han dynasty. Philosophical Taoism, which arose in the late Han, saw dogs as unclean and consumption of dog was believed to harm efforts to live a simple life.
During the Tang (AD 618–690 & 705–907) and Song (AD 960–1279) dynasties, dog consumption decreased even further as the range of available meats increased and stories of faithful dogs and Buddhist ideas of reincarnation spread.
What "Tradition" Excuse Makers Don't Tell youIn China which has many ethnic minorities, each with its own traditions and culinary customs. But none of them can be described as dog-eating. Further investigation reveals these facts.
- In Islam, dogs are regarded as unclean and so there is a religious prohibition on eating dog meat.
- Mongols are traditionally nomads and see dogs as guards and staunch companions.
- For Manchus eating dog is taboo, due to a legend that a dog saved the life of their forefather Nurhaci.
- The Tibetans are Buddhist and will not kill animals unnecessarily, and see dogs as loyal companions.
Even the Zhuang people of Guangxi – where the Yulin “dog-meat festival” takes place - and despite what the festival supporters say about tradition, are not recorded in historical documents as being keen dog eaters.
It's all about the moneyChina evaluates their Local government officials on GDP growth. But remote and poorest regions struggle to meet these growth targets, and the officials responsible are under considerable pressure.
This gives rise to various odd money-making schemes, with cultural events designed to boost the local economy a popular choice. It also leads to ignoring laws such as every dog or cat that would be used for food must pass a one week quarantine. Another law that Yulin officials fail to enforce is the documentation of where that animal came from.
Many of the 20,000 Dog and Cats killed during the 2015 festival were stolen from families that considered their pet as a part of the family and never envisioned it as someone's meal.
In 2009 Yulin, situated in China’s southwest border province of Guangxi, created this grand festival and tried to reinvent itself and eventually came up with a ”dog-meat and lychee's festival” to attract tourists and investment. When the dog meat eating controversy started to become too big for these local officials, they scurried to claim Yulin as the keeper of Chinese tradition.
Up until 2009 Yulin had never been a part of mainstream Chinese culture and with no famous historical figures or events to make use of it was essentially a no name, town that before 2009 - 99% of the Chinese people never heard about and would never think of Yulin as the standard-bearer of Chinese tradition.
Dog-eaters have, naturally enough, any number of reasons to explain the legitimacy of the practice, some just did it to rebel and with China's strict hold on its people, many saw this as an opportunity to defy China's ruling party and now the world itself. Some went as far to defend its legality by pointing out that anything not banned by law, is permitted.
But somehow all these dog and cat eating people ignore the moral standards as well, higher than legal ones?
Standards Legal standards are designed to protect our basic security.
Moral standards, maintain our civilization and ensure we do not sway towards the degenerate.
Our own standards push us ever forward to achieve more than our ancestors or even tradition has set for us.
While the dog-eating advocates argue the reasons for their case, they never seem to stop and hear what surrounds them. The screams coming from dogs whose head are being cruelly pummeled with hammers and sticks. They never seem to hear the whimpering of dogs and cats who know that their time is at hand.
These innocent animals only wish is to be reunited with the loving family that they were stolen from. These advocates cry about tradition. They whine that the world has no right to tell them how to act or what to eat. They make their argument while stepping over the street gutters. Fearful of getting splashed by the seemingly never-ending flow of blood from slaughtered defenseless animals.
The truth is these animals aren't being butchered in the name tradition, but for the almighty Chinese Yuan.