China bans dog-eating 'carnival'
Beijing - The Chinese government has banned a traditional carnival in the east of the country in which dogs are eaten after being chopped up alive in the street following a public uproar that the festival was cruel, state media reported on Wednesday.
The tradition in Qianxi in the wealthy coastal province of Zhejiang dates back 600 years to celebrate a local military victory and is normally held every October, the official Xinhua news agency said.
"The ancient fair was replaced by a modern commodity fair in the 1980s, but dog-eating has been kept as a tradition," it reported.
"However, vendors began to butcher dogs in public a few years ago to show their dog meat is fresh and safe, as a way to ease buyers' worry that the meat may be refrigerator-preserved or even contaminated."
Pictures which circulated online via popular micro-blogging sites had such an impact that the government gave into demands that the festival be banned, Xinhua said.
"The government's quick response should be encouraged. I hope eating dogs will not be a custom there anymore. It's not a carnival, but a massacre," it quoted one internet user as saying.
Despite once being banned as a bad bourgeois habit, dog ownership has become increasingly popular with China's growing middle-class in the past few years, as has online activism.
While the government has encouraged people to take to the internet to expose corruption and abuse of power, it keeps a tight rein on what can be said online, deleting comments it objects to and arresting those who criticise too much.