The country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has revised a list of livestock animals which can be traded for meat. The move has been welcomed by animal welfare campaigners across the world, who had lashed out at China for hosting the infamous Yulin Dog Meat Festival. This has come in the wake of the accelerating coronavirus outbreak, which is thought to have originated towards the end of last year in ‘wet’ markets where live animals are sold alongside slaughtered meat.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture stated in a draft document a move towards a permanent ban on the sale of dog meat.
The document said: “With the progress of human civilisation and the public’s concern and preference for animal protection, dogs have changed from traditional domestic animals to companion animals.
“Dogs are generally not regarded as livestock and poultry around the world, and China should also not manage them as livestock and poultry.”
Dogs and cats have not been on livestock lists in the past, but this is a landmark move because it is the first time the government has formally commented on dogs.
China is due to host the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in the city of Yulin, Guangxi, during the summer solstice.
The 10-day festival, which began in 2009, sees tens of thousands of dogs eaten by visitors – a move heavily opposed throughout the world.
Festival organisers have attempted to defend the practice by insisting the dogs are killed humanely.
But campaigners claim the animals are being treated in a cruel manner, with horrific footage showing dogs being boiled, skinned and blow-torched alive.
Wendy Higgins, spokeswoman for Humane Society International, said: “This draft proposal could signal a game-changer moment for animal protection in China.”
Wet markets are now slowly beginning to reopen in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak is thought to have originated.
But a ban on slaughtering and selling live animals remains in place.
Leading scientists have suggested COVID-19 was transmitted to humans from wild animals, via bats.
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Coronavirus has killed nearly 100,000 people worldwide, with more than 1.5million confirmed cases of the killer pandemic reported in some 200 countries.
China has seen a dramatic fall in new cases and deaths over recent days, as the country edges closer from eliminating COVID-19.
On Thursday, the country reported just two deaths, with the total number standing at 3,335.
There were also just 63 new cases, taking its figure to 81,865.
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