CHINA China mulls excluding dogs from livestock list, prompting speculation


China mulls excluding dogs from livestock list, prompting speculation

Global Times

02:52, April 10, 2020


A man passes by a dog meat market in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. (Photo: Global Times)

China is mulling the exclusion of dogs from the official livestock and poultry management list, prompting many to speculate that the consumption of dog meat may cease being legal soon and it may spell doom for the Yulin annual dog meat festival in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. 

Dogs are companions, not livestock and poultry, the country's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a document introducing the new draft of the National Catalogue of Livestock and Poultry Genetic Resources, published on April 8 to solicit public opinions until May 8.

The catalogue by the ministry lists a total of 31 animals as livestock and poultry.

"With the progress of human civilization and the public's concern and preference for animal protection, dogs have changed from traditional domestic animals to companion animals. Dogs are generally not regarded as livestock and poultry around the world, and China should also not manage them as livestock and poultry," the ministry explained. 

Although the ministry told media that the draft has nothing to do with consumption of dog meat, many analysts and netizens still take it as a major step toward putting an end to dog consumption in China.

Guo Peng, an expert from Shandong University, hailed the move, saying the draft may bring an end to the interest chains of dog markets, as the dog meat industry is largely based on the illegal trade of dogs. 

But the draft has triggered opposition from dog-related business owners in China, especially in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, where thousands of people make a living from it. 

A dog business owner from Guangxi told the Global Times that the draft should take local living conditions into consideration, as thousands of people from the region make a living from the dog meat industry, and the costs of asking them to change profession would be huge.

Some observers said the draft may spell doom for the annual traditional dog meat festival in Yulin, a city in Guangxi, where local stores slaughter dogs and locals taste dog meat to celebrate. Recent years have seen the festival surrounded by controversy, with animal lovers and activists protesting against it. 

According to local customs and traditional Chinese medicine theory, dog meat is nutritious and helps protect people from diseases that are common in summer. The festival is traditionally held on the Summer Solstice, which falls on June 21 this year. 

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, has become the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. The city-level legislation will take effect in May. 

Sun Quanhui, a scientist from World Animal Protection, a United Nations general consultative organization, told the Global Times Thursday that he expects more provinces and cities to learn from Shenzhen and legally ban cat and dog meat.

The practice of eating dog meat in China is not common - the majority of Chinese people have never done so and don't want to. Only a few people in regions including Guangxi, Zhejiang and northeastern regions maintain this habit.

An online poll on Sina Weibo on Thursday that over 40,000 Chinese netizens took part in showed that the majority support a ban on eating dog meat across the country. Only about 6,600 oppose the idea.

Many hailed the draft decision, but some opposed change, asking why the livestock list still includes cows, pigs and goats then, as they had also been with human beings for thousands of years.

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