As the holiday of May Day is in full swing across China this week, a new law has entered into force in the cities of Shenzhen and Guangdong Zhuhai on the south coast of China. On May 1, the neighboring cities became the first in China to officially ban the consumption of dog meat and cat. The new law is merely a reaction to COVID-19 or part of a long-term trend in Chinese society? As a former resident of both cities, I bring you an explanation of why Shenzhen and Zhuhai were the first to take the plunge, some insight into social attitudes about the cat and dog meat in modern China, and some thoughts about whether more cities are likely to do the same.

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in early April after a national ban on consumption, breeding and sale of wild animals following of the outbreak COVID-19, Shenzhen became the first city anywhere in mainland China to announce a ban on cat and dog meat. one Zhuhai quickly followed suit a couple of weeks later, with the Humane Society International, a campaign group of animal rights, prohibitions welcome.

A spokesman for the government of Shenzhen, said, "Dogs and cats as pets have established much closer relationship with humans than other animals ... This prohibition also responds to the demand and the spirit of human civilization. " To avoid any confusion, the city authority also listed animals considered acceptable for consumption, including pigs, cattle, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, quails and others. Unlucky for some.

What's behind the new law?

The timing of the new law is perhaps too obvious to many. Coronavirus as the emergence of a global pandemic has brought scrutiny on China trade in animals and feeding practices. The ban on the consumption of dog meat and cat together with wild animals is undoubtedly a double-headed arrow, aimed at addressing domestic concerns about the potential transmission from animal to human of the virus while showing disapproval countries Western China is willing to eliminate some of the eating habits that are seen as barbarians elsewhere in the world.

worth noting penalty however, it is still unclear whether the virus first passed from animal to human in the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, and to suggest that this new law was introduced solely because of COVID -19 would subtract many important long-term factors at play here. Contrary to popular belief in the West, consumption of dog and cat meat is actually very rare here. As one article put BBC News, "The practice of eating dog meat in China is not so common - most Chinese have done and say I do not."

Other sources suggest that the consumption of dog meat is just common practice among Korean ethnic minorities in parts of northeastern China, although the southwestern city of Yulin in Guangxi province is, of course, famous for its annual festival of dog meat. This event, wrenching images of which are covered through social media by rights groups of animals and celebrities at all times of the year, is widely denounced as overly harsh, especially when it comes to the way they have been euthanized dogs. I will not go into details here, but look up if you really want to ruin your day.

What gets less attention, however, is the fact that many Chinese citizens have similar feelings outraged animal lovers in the West. A 2016 article in China Daily state newspaper cited survey results of the survey company Horizon Chinese, who claimed that 64% of respondents wanted to see the end of the Feast of dog meat Yulin. The article went on to claim that the local government has also begun to distance themselves from the festival as calls to stop giving impetus to the event.

Far from being a practice into the mainstream of Chinese society, trade in dog meat seems to have become a lucrative source of income for criminal gangs. Again in 2014, a number of arrests were made in Zhejiang Province east coast, when a band that has been pet hunting dogs with poisoned darts and sale of corpses was found to restaurants. shocking stories on trade in cat meat China are harder to find, perhaps because of the ready supply of cats stay in China or perhaps because the stories about the best friend of the righteous man pulling the strings of the heart more. Call me a cynic.

Why Shenzhen and Zhuhai?

Many may wonder why the new law has only been deployed in Shenzhen and Zhuhai and not on the entire territory of the country. It might have something to do with the fact that people in Guangdong has a reputation for its exotic flavors, hence the joke that "eat anything that has four different legs of a table." Maybe they feel now is the time to clean up its image.

After all, compared to most places in China, Guangdong has a lot of exposure to the outside world. Shenzhen, in particular, is a major economic center where many foreigners live, work and do business. In the same way Zhuhai is a cosmopolitan city where many foreigners work as English teachers. While the same could be said of Beijing and Shanghai, these two cities on the East Coast rich do not have the reputation of their adventurous / indiscriminate eating habits.

In fact, this measure could well be an attempt to improve China's image in the eyes of the world after the many criticisms and decidedly fierce following the outbreak COVID-19. Guo Changgang, head of the Research Center for the History of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, called for the ban to be applied nationwide, stating that "Eating wild animals, meat dog meat and cat is one of the important elements damage the international image of China. "He did, however, recognize that these practices have never been widely accepted within Chinese society, which implies that stigma is something of a misconception.

The future of cat and dog meat in China

Having lived in both Shenzhen and Zhuhai for several years, I must say I've never seen or dog meat cat on any menu, or sold in any market. Moreover, not (knowingly) I consumed, and I've certainly never come across locals who have expressed their taste for canine or feline meat. You can not deny, however, that the practice exists, with the Festival of dog meat Yulin being the most visible manifestation and unpleasant this

If there is any appetite at all for dog meat and cat -. And let's face it, only one percent of Chinese society is a hell of a lot of people - the authorities are likely to be wary of traffic making its way into the most vulnerable criminal in the back of a complete ban . If other cities and provinces of China remains suit track to be seen, but the decision is likely to be left to local authorities unless the central government decides that remedying the reputation shattered China abroad worth the risk of spawning a black market.

What is clear, at the least at this point, is that the last law is the culmination of a long-term social trend catalyzed by COVID-19 epidemic. What happens next will be of great intrigue to China watchers and animal lovers worldwide.

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A Lawyer of foreign hiring in China, is the CEO and Founder of Teaching China.net, a teacher employment and service provider firm that helps teachers get closer to their employers and win at securing a safe and valued teaching position in China.

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