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Hook: ( RA1) Here in the Unites states dogs are seen to be man’s best friend but it other countries such as China dogs are used and sold for their meat. [1] Communist China’s international reputation is being nationally skewed by the publicity of the Yulin dog meat festival. 30 million dogs are slaughtered across Asia each yeah and the root of this issue strung from the Great Chinese Famine from 1959-1961 where peasants would eat any animal they could get their hands on. But when increasingly modern families in China began to own dogs and cats as pets the subject of killing and eating them became very controversial, and people latched on to the idea of animal rights. While animal rights campaigners presented a 11 million-signature petition protesting the Yulin dog meat festival, defenders consisting mostly of men argue that dog meat has ascribed a wide variety of health benefits including helping the stomach and kidney and also improving a man’s sex drive making them feel masculine and powerful. [2] Although the festival was only invented in 2010 animal rights groups have seen great improvement with stopping this practice. 500 dogs pure bread gods such as golden retrievers and huskies have been rescued from trucks on their way to the slaughter house. The dog meat festivals in Yulin have caused an unfavorable impact on China’s national image. As China becomes a more developed country it needs to be held to higher economic and social standards

Thesis: The effect of the Great Chinese Famine paired with communist rule have all impacted the modern Chinese market and how their food choice effects their culture. During the great famine of 1959-1961 communist dictatorship was the leading cause of the famine.The Government during that time made clear separation between the rural farmers and urban population, government officials overestimated the amount of food the grain fields could provide, creating a inefficient distribution of food to the people and blaming the farmers for it. Neglect for the people’s well-being, food shortages, and inability to address the natural disasters occurring led to an impoverished and suffering society. With the government rationing the scarce food left the common people were left with the short end of the stick, leaving them to scavenge for any food left and many sources were uncommon such as dog meat.Although now the Chinese Communist government has changed focusing more on agriculture, economic growth, and exporting to rural industries the modern day effects are still resent. The argument that communist rule and famine contributed to uncommon cultural practices found in today’s Chinese food markets can be supported by patterns of hunger, disaster, and failure of government during the time of the great famine.

The link between Famine and communist rule in the 1960’s effected society greatly. Communist rule in China already had a great impact on the populations culture and many internal aspirations and assumptions. “The communists, while still utilizing and manipulating the Chinese tradition for their own purposes, have abruptly changes the national point of view” (pg.3) [3] (RA4 primary source) As Communist rule and effect culture the dictatorship last led to many detrimental events such as great famines in China. As Chinese refugees poured into Hong Kong food shortages became acute all across the mainland serious social and political stability needed to fall in place. One the verge of starvation “mobs” fled into farms to raid and steal grains until they were soon stopped by the communist regime this led for the communist government to take control of all food rations and resources. Food rations were tightened and fruits were almost unobtainable, a small bowl of rice had become the newest dinner meal for citizens. Families were to buy ration cards ” from the very beginning of its rule, the communist regime adopted a discriminative policy in food rationing in favor of the urban population because of the fact that they consisted of the bulk of the nation’s intellectuals, industrial workers, dependents of the military personnel, and college and university faculty”(pg.11)[4]. The communist dictatorship disregarded the rural population, made farmers give up their land for the commune and people began to eat whatever became available, mal-nutrition of the people became an epidemic.

A rice field in what is now Guangdong Province, 1958. An illustration of Mao’s intent of agricultural and industrial  reformation, that instead led to famine and disaster.

Searching back into Chinese history of food source, famine and hunger it was directly rooted to the 1960 China nationwide famine later known as the “Great Chinese Famine” struck by disaster and communist takeover. A small book published in December 1960 by the Asian People’s Anti-Communist League- Republic of China was written to an intended audience that was searching to find the underlying causes of communism in China and its influence on the great famine and its effects. The Anti-Communist League goes to on to describe desperate struggles of survival Chinese people had to endure during this time. Food grains, crops and livestock and been washed away by disaster and with what was left the communist regimen took over the food supply. Meat and fats had become a scarcity, only 20.2 kilograms a year of pork, beef, or muttum were available. The League describes what it was like for the Chinese people to scavenge and resort to uncommon sources of food. The writers of this source. The Anti-Communist League writes from a perspective on the other side of government rule, a group who didn’t agree with what was happening and that gives a god inside look into what really went on during this famine and how it affected society.[5] The book gives underlying assumptions that the severity of the famine led for people to create habits of eating in their culture that have now translated into society as unethical and uncommon, such as eating dog meat.

Figure 2: Depicts Mao as China’s savior, writing at the bottom translates to “Beloved Chairman Mao, we are loyal to you for all time”.

Looking back at the roots of famine Mao’s delusional policies caused by far the largest famine in human history and his plan to mobilize the country look decades. Over 30 million starved to death and about the same number of births were lost or postponed. “The origins of the famine can be traced to Mao Zedong’s decision, supported by the leadership of China’s communist party, to launch the Great Leap Forward”(pg.2)[6]. With his focus on the key role of heavy industry and steel production this industrialization came with many consequences such as millions of peasants were ordered to mine local deposits of iron, limestone, and to cut trees for charcoal this led to diminishing newly formed agricultural communes, grain harvests diminished. This ultimately led to less grain production and at the time was the source for 80% of China’s food energy. Natural disaster also played a role in the famine, droughts and floods had an effect on the countries food supply. The true extent of the famine was not revealed until the countries first reliable census was put out but still the data made it impossible to estimate the total number of excess deaths ranging from 23 million- 40 million later found in unpublished Chinese materials. The roots of the famine help us examine what other factors played into the corrupt communist rule that led to the starvation of millions.

As we have researched the roots of the Chinese famine and discovered that communist rule, and disaster were leading role players in this event “the greatest omission was the failure of China’s rulers to acknowledge the famine and promptly to secure foreign food aid. Study of famines shows how easily they can be ended (or prevented) once the government decides to act- But the Chinese government took three years to act”(pg.2)[7]. The communist government consisting of all men took away all means of food production, forced peasants into communes and continued exporting food to other countries. The government provided food to the ruling elite and created a perfect example of selective provisioning creating the link between political alienation and the governors from the governed. Although official accounts still see weather as the leading cause of the famine, still today China believes that the drought did effect the famine but the only way to get back to a stable and rational economic policy was for imports of grain to sustain their population again. Meaning if the communist government didn’t disregard the countries needs the famine would have ended earlier and had a lowed death rate.

Figure 3: Dogs in Yulin are slaughtered and eaten due to the lack of laws and regulations prohibiting animal abuse or eating dogs.

(new secondary source RA4) A source published in 2004 highlights the current politics surrounding eating dog meat in a Vietnamese town. It is very common for men to indulge in the luxury of eating dog meat, they build the principal of the meat thinking it gives them their masculinity, power, and influencing their sex drive. Men are the primary consumers of this uncommon meat similar to men being primary dictators in communist regime. Religion also played a role in why the consumption of dog meat is so prevalent, between 1975 and 1986 the north sided with communist ideals and the south decided to not reject religion or Buddhism a statement suggested that the northerners were communists not Buddhists and they introduced the southerners to dog meat. “Buddhism and Communism are competing ideologies, and associates eating dog meat with Northerners and Communism” (pg.11)[8]. The introduction to dog meat was primarily brought upon by people from the north because they saw dogs as human beings that lack moral restraint and indulge in forbidden practices, while Buddhists of the south don’t eat dog meant because it’s one of the ten forbidden meats stated in the Buddhists scriptures. As communist regime grew so did the idolization of dog meat.

Dogs dating back to the 1930’s have had a significant on society, they were initially bred for protection of the common people but the government saw them in a different light. They almost feared dogs and that’s why many communists killed them merely for their barking but they also feared rabies and attacks “the Communists would come into villages and immediately kill all the dogs, because of their barking. It’s become sort of a tradition: no dogs.”(pg.2) [9]. There have been periodic degrees issuing to have dogs destroyed, the Beijing government in 1983 stated that ” dogs have an adverse effect on social order” and over 200,000 dogs were drowned, or clubbed to death, and many were eaten. While this was an issue on the U.S. the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty sent a letter of protest to the Chinese government with only to receive a reply saying ” mind your own business “. “To the Chinese, dogs were only part of the food chain, but to most westerners they are a part of our families” (pg.3) [10] The majority of China lives on farms where they have very low income and see no benefit, have no room or money to provide for the dogs, their main interest is feeding themselves. Ultimately dogs never started with real significance in China and were seen as a disruption, waste of space, and were essentially used for food to feed the poor.

Dogs in China have a significant connection to communist rule. “The communist have been systematically destroying the dog population since they came to power. After 1949, millions of dogs were executed because they ate food needed for the starving human population” (pg.3) [10]. Dogs were killed for bedding for the Chinese army during the Korean War, Chinese communists have been very thorough with their determination of eliminating the dog population. As many were killed the practice of eating these dogs has carried into modern culture and markets in China. The continuation of communist rule in China has allowed the culture of eating dogs to be maintained because the exercise has been imbedded in the population for so long.

Conclusion: The roots of the modern day meat culture in Chinese markets is a direct reflection of The Great Chinese Famine and Communist rile during that time. During the 1960’s famine in China, Communism set in place harsh regulations and distribution laws that would leave many urban parts of society to starve. Grains and Animals had been washed away by disaster forcing farmers and peasants to turn to alternatives sources of food like dog meat. Thats where the idea of dog meat as a delicacy in the modern day food markets appeared. Communist relationships with dogs has also been rooted way back, dogs have been hated and killed for their barking and carrying of disease, eliminating their population became a tradition under communist rule. The tradition of eating dog meat during the Great Chinese Famine has carried through the modern day Chinese markets, where dog meat is sold as a delicacy. Its normality in these Chinese communities is becoming a problem in the eyes of western people, where dogs are seen as family members. Activists are protesting the Yulin dog meat festivals where innocent dogs are captured and slaughtered on the behalf of the people enjoyment. The root of the contemporary issue is that Chinese Communism influenced the Great Chinese Famine creating a tradition in their culture to see dogs as food, and exercising the tradition of killing, selling, and eating these creatures in their modern day markets.

Endnotes:

[1] Denyer, “Dog meant festival draws ire in china”, The Vancouver Sun, June 11, 2016, http://search.proquest.com/docview/1795761130/F98713F3316405DPQ/13?accountid=14902,  (accessed January 18,2017)

[2] The Vancouver Sun, June 11,2016

[3] (RA4 primary source) Boorman, Howard L. “China and the Global Revolution.” The China Quarterly, no. 1 (1960): 3-5. http://www.jstor.org/stable/763334.

[4]Hsiang-kao,”The Great Famine on the Chinese Mainland Under Communist Regime in 1960, Asian Peoples’ Anti-Communist League, December 1960

[5] Asian Peoples’ Anti-Communist League, December 1960

[6] Smil, Vaclav. “China’s Great Famine: 40 Years Later.” BMJ: British Medical Journal 319, no. 7225 (1999): 1619-621. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25186683.

[7] BMJ: British Medical journal, December 18-25, 1999

[8] Avieli, Nir. “DOG MEAT POLITICS IN A VIETNAMESE TOWN.” Ethnology 50, no. 1 (2011): 59-78. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41756650.

[9] Sendzimir, Vanda. “Dog Days in China.” The North American Review 280, no. 6 (1995): 4-6. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25125944, 2.

[10] The North American Review, 1995, 3.

Illustrations:

Figure 1: Mirsky, Jonathan. “‘Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962,’ By Yang Jisheng”. Nytimes.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/09/books/review/tombstone-the-great-chinese-famine-1958-1962-by-yang-jisheng.html

Figure 2: “Chinese Communist Propaganda Posters”. Awesomezhongguopropposters.tumblr.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017. https://awesomezhongguopropposters.tumblr.com/

Figure 3: Fung, Owen. “Yulin Pledges To Ban Slaughter Of Dogs In Public As Controversial Food Festival Draws Near”. South China Morning Post. N.p., 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/1975933/yulin-pledges-ban-slaughter-dogs-public-controversial-food

Geographical focus: China, Asia (other Asian communist countries)

Search terms: Animal abuse, China, Dog meat festival, Famine, Hunger, Communism

RCI’s: Humans and the environment, Roots of contemporary conflicts

Historical questions: A) How did the Great Famine reflect into China’s modern day eating habits(such as eating dog meat)? B) Without Communist rule would have the intensity and overall effect of the Great Famine changed?