Chinese city holds dog-meat festival early to avoid animal-rights protests Yulin residents bring forward annual summer solstice festival as objections increase and Chinese lose taste for dog meat Chinese vendors transport cages of dogs to be killed and eaten at the Yulin annual summer solstice festival. Residents in a southern Chinese city that has come under fire for an annual summer solstice festival in which thousands of dogs are slaughtered for food have held their feasts early to avoid attention. Some residents of Yulin started gathering last weekend and eating dog meat and lychees to celebrate the longest day of the year, before Saturday's actual solstice, state media reported. The residents wanted to avoid protests by animal-rights activists. In recent years, the festival has been targeted by activists who have drummed up public awareness of the event with posts on social media and online petitions, and descended on the city to protest outside slaughterhouses or markets where the dogs are sold. The public uproar reflects the increasing affluence of ordinary Chinese people, who keep pets, travel overseas and are changing attitudes towards traditions they may not have questioned. Photos on state media showed groups of Yulin city residents tucking into plates of meat and vegetables around dining tables strewn with lychees. Other photos, which circulated widely on Chinese microblogs, were of skinned, cooked dogs hanging from hooks at street stalls or piled on tables. Under the Yulin tradition, eating dog and lychee and drinking alcohol on the solstice is supposed to make people stay healthy during winter. It is unclear whether the supposed health benefits diminish if the feast is had before the actual solstice. Animal-rights activists say the event is a public health risk because the dogs undergo no quarantine to ensure they are free of disease, and that they are strays grabbed off streets around the country, as well as allegedly stolen from pet-owners. The dogs are often poisoned with toxic chemicals that could be harmful to humans, they say. Deng Yidan, an activist with Animals Asia, said the public backlash hurt the image of Yulin and China. "Negative coverage is growing â€“ dog theft, criminal activities, food hygiene issues and rabies fears â€“ not to mention the division in society between those for and against the festival â€“ together these have brought significantly more negative publicity to Yulin than economic benefits," Deng said. The Yulin government has sought to distance itself from the feasting, saying it was not officially endorsed. State media reports said the government had told restaurants to remove references to dog meat from their menus and signboards â€“ though it did not bar the sale and consumption of the meat, which is not illegal in China. The government has denied the formal existence of such a festival, saying it was a culinary habit practised only by some businesses and people. Public pressure stopped another dog meat festival in eastern Zhejiang province, which was cancelled in 2011 despite being a holiday dating back hundreds of years. Chinese city holds dog-meat festival early to avoid animal-rights protests | World news | theguardian.com ***************************************************************************** What is wrong with some Chinese wanting to keep their tradition of enjoying dog meat? Why must they bow down to Western pressures and Western ways? The French eat frogs leg. They don't change their ways and instead make other feel that eating frogs leg is chic! Many SE Asia countries eat insects and bugs but they are not ashamed of the same. China is so proud of their cultural heritage and traditions, but are now changing to ape the West. I am sure there must be some good reasons for the Chinese are a very careful people who are not impetuous. Maybe they are afraid of rabies. Who knows?