IN LATE June, thousands of people throng the streets of Yulin, a city in the southern province of Guangxi, for an annual dog-eating festival. The event is controversial worldwide. Animal-welfare groups claim that 15,000 dogs are inhumanely slaughtered for the occasion every year, most of them pets or strays.
The festival is contentious in China, too. Thousands of people protest online against the festival and demand that dog meat be made illegal, as it has been in Taiwan—in April the island became the first Asian country to ban eating or trading the meat of dogs and cats.
Dog meat is not taboo in China, as it is in most Western countries. But, says Guo Peng of Shandong University, eating dogs has always been uncommon, except in parts of the south and among the ethnic Korean minority, who number 2.3m and mostly live in the north-east. Many Chinese, she says, regard dog meat as a kind of medicine that can regulate the heat of the body. But they do not treat it as a main source of protein.
Over the past two decades, however, dog meat, like drugs, has become a source of criminal income, according to Ms Guo. Sellers in Yulin and elsewhere say their meat comes from dog farms. But when animal-welfare groups have tried to inspect such farms, they have usually been unable to find any.
Read more at Economist