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Friends or food? Big data reveals what China thinks of dog meat

(Chinadaily.com.cn)    08:48, June 21, 2015
(Photo from Fjsen.com)

BEIJING - Yulin, China's dog meat festival, is held every June on Xiazhi, the longest day in the Chinese lunar calendar. But what does the public really think about eating dog meat?

On Twitter, thousands of tweets bearing the hashtag # StopYuLin2015 were posted every hour on Friday alone, with many users calling on their followers to sign a petition to stop the Yulin festival.

As of 9 pm, Friday, more than 2.3 million users had posted messages opposing the practice. Similar campaigns were also seen on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog website.

#Yulindogmeatfestival was used in more than 350,000 posts, making it the highest-trending hashtag on the issue.

Topics with more suggestive tags such as # saynotoYulindogmeatfestival attracted wide attention, and many retweets.

However, contrary to the buzz on Twitter, data revealed by search engine Baidu paints a different picture; suggesting a decline in interest in the festival.

According to Baidu Index, searches for "dog meat" over the past seven days had dropped 38 percent year on year, while "dog meat festival" had 57 percent less searches.

However, it revealed that the most-asked questions related to dog meat were: "How to cook it" and "when is the festival".

In regions like Yulin in southwest China, dog meat is seen as a delicacy. However, a growing number of people oppose the tradition, on the grounds that dogs are pets and eating dog meat may cause disease.

On Thursday, Yulin government reiterated that it did not support the "so-called festival" and promised to come down hard on anyone caught stealing or poisoning dogs.

In 2011, Jinhua, another city in east China's Zhejiang Province canceled its 600-year old dog meat festival after massive opposition.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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