Dog meat-free Olympics

Posted by: Dexter Roberts on July 14, 2008

In yet another effort to ensure a trouble-free Olympics, Beijing authorities have announced that they are banning more than a hundred officially-designated Olympic restaurants in China’s capital from including dog meat on the menu during next month’s games. Other restaurants would be discouraged from serving dog meat too.

“Dog meat sales are being suspended as a mark of respect for foreigners and people of ethnic groups,” an official with the food safety administration was quoted as saying by the Beijing Daily newspaper on July 11th. Dog meat has been controversial before, explained the official media, citing both the 1988 Seoul Olympics and 2002 World Cup as both major athletic events that were dogged by the issue.

Now while I personally am not a fan of eating dogs—too many happy memories from childhood with family canines—I can’t help but think that Beijing authorities have more important things they should be focusing on. Tops on my list? Beijing authorities start recognizing the obvious: that the upcoming Games will inevitably also be accompanied by protests, most likely by international visitors, and they will have nothing to do with dogs.

And whether those are related to China’s polices towards Tibet or the Sudan or some other human rights issue, it is impossible to stop them from happening. So a much more important issue facing Beijing authorities is how to deal with these unplanned events, do so in a way that creates minimal disruption to the Games, and doesn’t end up being so heavy-handed that efforts to control protests end up overshadowing the athletic event itself. Or worse yet—damage Beijing’s international image and even possibly hurt its economy in the long term.

This point was made very well in an interesting July 9th analysis by CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets China macro strategist Andy Rothman. Rothman’s analysis was focused on the economic impact of the Games on China, including how industrial and traffic restrictions might affect China’s economy. But the more interesting part to my mind was the part that looked at whether possible protests could have economic implications. Here’s what Rothman wrote:

“Peaceful protests will take place, at Olympic venues or Tiananmen Square, and the Party leadership will have to decide how its security services will respond. One option will be to arrest the protestors, ensuring that film of the arrests leads global media coverage of the Olympics, tarnishing China’s image and undermining the purpose of hosting the event

“Arrests of protestors will not have an immediate impact on the Chinese economy - unless the confrontations turn violent and protestors are killed or injured. This scenario is unlikely, but could result in Western consumers boycotting Chinese consumer goods. Mass arrests that do not result in injuries are likely to have a more subtle, longer-term impact: making it more difficult for mainland companies and the Chinese government’s new sovereign fund to invest overseas; damaging the image of goods made in China, which could slow export growth and the move by Chinese manufacturers to higher value-added goods; and raising the level of tension over human rights in China’s key diplomatic relationships.”

“Hopefully, the Party has decided to allow peaceful protests to take place in a way that does not interfere with the games, enabling China to achieve its objective of improving its international image and boosting national pride.”

Yes, let’s hope so. Judging from Beijing’s track record in dealing with protests, however, I’m not too optimistic. Figuring out how to deal with the inevitable protests will help ensure a more successful Games, and as Rothman notes, could affect China’s long term economic goals too. And worrying about things like how foreigners react to dog meat on the menu? Just a distraction from a lot more important issues still facing Beijing in the less than one month before the Games..

Reader Comments

JiaMing

July 14, 2008 12:31 PM

This is a gross violation of human rights. Dog meat has been a delicacy in the Chinese culture for millenniums, even though the practice is generally rare these days. The US and Europe didn't ban beef or pork for the Indians and Muslims.

cparjb

July 14, 2008 12:41 PM

The title of this article just says it all.

Kevin

July 14, 2008 1:00 PM

This Article Has Your Name Written All Over It!!

mo

July 14, 2008 4:27 PM

Have you not considered the obvious; canine lovers protesting dog butchering ?
Personally I protest self-absorbed columnist's worry of a blotch on the Chinese "image".

Steven

July 14, 2008 5:00 PM

Beef soule also be banned. Cows work so hard for the farming in the developing countries.

Porks should be banned. Many pet pigs.

Fish should be banned from dinning tables. Many families have fish tank at their home.

..............

Mr. Huang

July 14, 2008 9:38 PM

What will truly satisify you? Why all the articles are about the negative side of PRC, nobody mentioned the positive changes and the efforts government put, it's just so easy to say what you've said. If the gov. did nothing regarding the dog meat, maybe you will wirte again saying "those eating dog meat chinese, can't they do sth? to show the respect to foreigns?" I believe people believe what they want to believe, so if you already think negatively about China, no matter what they do, you won't be happy about it. That's what I got from reading your article.

jcage

July 15, 2008 12:28 AM

Well, you can't argue with a bigot!
Provocative title, one side reporting and I tell you that only the worst of BW get to work on the Asian section while the best are reserved for USA and Europe!

Maersk

July 15, 2008 3:49 AM

If I train a cow to sing and dance and keep it as a pet, I should tell those beef eating people not to eat it.

lilichenlei

July 15, 2008 4:09 AM

trouble-free Olympics?does China promise to the world?naive westners.China just wants to do it better,but does not mean to sacrifice China's intersests or meet any requirements sensible or not at all expense.

P. Schmidt

July 15, 2008 6:22 AM

Dog meat, Cat meat and Rat meat have been delicacies in the Chinese culture for centuries.

Eddie

July 15, 2008 11:04 AM

Maersk, do you know that one can train a pig much easier than a dog to sing and dance as pig is genrally much more intelligent by scientific research?

Eddie

July 15, 2008 11:09 AM

I think China should allow gay marriages during the Olympics to please the foreigners. We all know which forign group that we are talking about.

cparjb

July 15, 2008 12:52 PM

Mr. Huang,

I would like to know the positives about the government in China, not to say any other government is better, but look at it's track record. The government not only censors the free press and information (internet search engines), it allows for one of the worst envioronmental pollution by businesses on the planet (for the good of the PRC), it's citizens are arrested and put in jail for not following the party line, it condones patent and trademark infringement by Chinese companies against non-Chinese companies by not doing anything, government corruption harms its own people, etc., etc., etc. So don't just say there are positive changes, we all are waiting to see any of them.

jhorn

July 15, 2008 1:29 PM

ha..ha..ha.these chinese dawgs. :D

RLI

July 15, 2008 7:14 PM

Cparjb is so well trained by the negative western press. China has banned using plastic bags in supermarkets for environmental protection. You don't know because this received very little press in the west. Germany is the only other country that also bans plastic bags in supermarkets. There is pollution in developed countries and all developing countries. Stop acting like this does not happen in your country. Clean up your own country before you have the right to talk about china. In the west, protesters face police brutality, water canon, ethnic minorities face unfair treatments in all walks of life. I don't care what ethnic background you are, all the things you mentioned in your comment are happening in your own country. There is trademark infringement in every country, incluing Germany, Japan, india, and the US. You don't know because it's not broadcasted through the media. Just because you don't hear it all the time, it does not mean it does not exist in your own country. Congratulations, Cparjb, you are now officially a brainless sheep educated by the western media.

Bob

July 16, 2008 12:15 AM

To Cparjb and people like you, please remember, this is just a Games, a big party at most, China provide comfortable facilities to athletes, audiences and TV broadcast, people from all over the world take the opportunity to communicate and make friends, that's all!!! if you want have some fun, let's make some fun, if you are not happy with anything, it's ok, just do your work in the Games, and take plane home safely. what really disgust me is that so many people want to blackmail China on this, on that, like the Olympics is really that important to China, without this Games, China will still grow more than 10% every year, without this Games, China will still surpass US to be the largest economy in 2023,without this Games, China will still make fast-growing economic relationship with the majority undeveloped nations, then contribute to world poverty reduction, which is the true anwser to world peace, not your bloody slaughter of over 1 million Iraqis in just 5 years. We are trying so hard to be nice, so please don't test our patience, 2008 is a significant year, making China's new generation understand how ugly the western press is, and how brainwasted those westerners reading these press, but the truth is, we will have fun, we will make friends and communicate with Russians, Indians, Africans, South Americans, middle east muslims, and those westerners willing to making friends rather than confrontation.

Mydad

July 16, 2008 1:42 AM

The author of this article tried to entice readers by bad mouthing about the countries that aren't so popular in the US. But such an attempt is disgusting.

ADAM AND EVE

July 16, 2008 5:33 AM

I DON'T LIKE WESTERN MEDIA,THEY ARE A BUNCH OF LIARS,MALIGNERS.

BMW

July 16, 2008 5:39 AM

THE ARTICLE IS FULL OF CRAP ABOUT THE AMERICAN THINKING

Barbara Holtzman

July 16, 2008 8:09 AM

What I learned about people from other countries (meaning not the US) from these postings is not positive. It solidifies what I already know from comments to my blogs - English is a complex language that few understand, and any opportunity to slam the US is a good opportunity. There are quite a few stupid comments on all sides here. Not quite sure what point most of the commenters are trying to make. Entirely too much "mine is bigger" posturing.

This article is NOT about banning dog meat, but how the Chinese have worse things to worry about - mainly, that the West is far more concerned about their policies regarding Tibet and Sudan, and are far more likely to be vocal about THOSE issues than to be interviewed on TV about dog meat.

By the way, having the "largest economy" really only means you get to have the largest economic problems. The goal is to have the BEST economy, one that functions well internally and relates well externally. I'm waiting for China to remember they are actually a communist and not a capitalist country. What a "party," complete with fireworks, that's going to be.

plumblossom

July 16, 2008 10:09 AM

@ Babara - Your comment "English is a complex language that few understand" simply means "listen to what I have to say (in English)and say YES". Otherwise, you don't understand English.

steve

July 16, 2008 5:51 PM

@ Babara, you should be worried about the worse things like the mistreatment of humanity as a result of the long drawn conflicts between middle east and israel. Return the occupied land. This is what you should be focused on.

purebushit!

July 17, 2008 11:53 AM

When we lived in Hong Kong, my mother was fearful of some restauranteur 'slipping us dog.' First, every restauranteur is a die-hard, Adam Smith (or even a Neo-Con-type) CAPITALIST. Dog is a delicacy, and thus EXPENSIVE...why would they give you expensive delicious dog, when all you want is tough, tired old water buffalo? Most of the peckerwoods responding here appear to be 'CONCERNED' with China and human rights....please, before sticking your nose elsewhere, look at Washington DC and your state capitol....were a bunch of goons and thugs that rival the Nazis and Joe Stalin Commies! And, we are the grossest polluter on the only planet that will have us...for a while longer, anyway.

cparjb

July 17, 2008 1:29 PM

RLI, congratulations, you have just experienced freedom of free speech!

I must say I do agree with you, we do have a lot to clean up in the US, environmental or otherwise. But nowehere in the world is a better place to live evidenced by the influx of immigrants the US has. There are "Chinatowns" from NY to San Francisco. I doubt there are "Americatowns" in Beijing.

However, what we have in the Western world that doesn't seem to exist in the PRC is a legal system that actually upholds laws and allows for free market and a free economy. Here's an example that is not in the "media" to prove my point:

A former colleague of mine who works for a US based manufacturer also visits China where the US manufacturer has a plant. The US manufacturer uses a patented process to make a product that can only be made via the patented process. The US manufacturer determines that its' Chinese competitor is also making this product using their patented process. The US manufacturer fiels a complaint with the apropriate authority and contacts the Chinese comeptitor to halt production of the product and stop using the US manufacturer's patented process. Well, wouldn't you know it, the Chinese government agrees the Chines manufacturee should not be employing the process, but needless to say, they look the other way and the Chinese cometitor is still illegally using the US manufacturer's patented process to develop the product. This is what is wrong with the PRC, at any cost, they will favor "their own" with no respect to basic patent/trade protections. There must be instances in the US where patent/trademark/copyright infringement takes place. The difference, however, is that our government upholds the laws that protect a creator's ideas / product / what have you.

As far as a bias of Western media against PRC, please expain the image of the Chinese government tank rolling over a Chinese student. If that doesn't say it all about the PRC regime, I don't know what does.

Although the US can do a lot of things better, immigrants still flock to our shores because they know a better life awaits them here if they work hard.

And, yes, China can make new friends around the world, but I really doubt your new friends would support your economy as the US does.

RLI

July 18, 2008 5:41 PM

Cparjb is just a little naive anti-China propaganda machine. If Cparjb is so concerned about the image of every country, you should find out how indian doctors steal people's kidneys and sell them for profits, how the untouchables live in india. Human rights are violated everywhere, look at racism that blatantly displays in soccer games in europe, look at how some people favor their own in the US in all walks of life. Everything you mentioned in your comment happens in every country on earth. Do you think trade mark infringement does not exist in india, and any other developing countries? Trade mark infringement even exists in developed countries, but to a lesser extent, perhaps.

Regarding the legal system, US has been the richest country for at least one century, and certainly established a strong legal networks through time. How can you compare China, a developing country, to a well established and richest nation in the world? It's absolutely absurd for you to make all those comments.

If you want to promote free speech, you should go to india and educate those untouchables about free speech. Only the underserved people will listen to your naive rhetoric.

RLI

July 19, 2008 3:27 PM

Businessweek censored my response to Cparjb. This is american version of free speech, right?! Guys, go watch the don't taze me bro video on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-PcS-s9WtQ It's funny and certainly eye-openning education for Cparjb.

Businessweek is a biased publication, they will only publish garbage that they favor in their magazine.

sad

July 20, 2008 1:09 AM

nothing to read here. just more china bashing articles to boost the fragile egos of whites. non-white emerging countries are rising, deal with it whites

polarfire

July 20, 2008 4:59 AM

In general, I really make sense what the aunthor have presented in this article, China government is too self-confidenced to controll international issues with the way it used to put down the internal one. Olympics in china never be just a athletic topic, more is a political and social issue, to some extent, this games shall serve as a mirror, we can detect whether the dictators would make promised progress in more important area such as free press and governing transparency and democracy or not. The most valuable legacy of olympic not only be a couple of wonderful gyms and stadium, but how much fundamental benefit china citizens can take from this process.

aspet

July 30, 2008 5:09 PM

JiaMing
July 14, 2008 12:31 PM
This is a gross violation of human rights. Dog meat has been a delicacy in the Chinese culture for millenniums, even though the practice is generally rare these days. The US and Europe didn't ban beef or pork for the Indians and Muslims

YOU FREAKING BARBARIANS YOU COMPARE US & UK WITH YOUR HELL???!!!!
DOGS ARE MANS BEST FRIEND YOU PRIMITIVES-NOT FOOD!!!!
ROT IN HELL WHERE YOU BELONG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JiaMing

July 31, 2008 1:19 AM

Let me see. You would like to ban the whole from eating dog meat in their own home because you consider dogs your best friend (at least better friend than the Iraqis). But it is okay for you to eat cows which are considered sacred by Indians. Barbarians? look who's talking.

April

July 31, 2008 10:44 PM

Our education in China is about "love the country and love the party", everything the party says and does is right and the only right. Not to critise or question (the party) is the key. this is why Chinese people grow up with little opionion of themselves, and we have very few successful academis or scientists. this is also why the Chinese people in the forum are protecting themselves like this - they're typical nationalists.

their arguement is intersting though - as if people must not critise China just because of the fact that problems China have also exist in other countries, particular the US. As if the fact China has gained significant economic development would make its human right abuse not worth mentioning. Come on, this development should have happened 60 years ago when the new China was born! It's Mao who killed it but of course our young people today don't know anything about it but treat the economic success as a privillege! No it's what we deserve and it's at least 30 years late!

I only love the country too much to wait to see its demoncracy progress. I only love the country too much to wait to see our young people be more open-minded. Yes there are anti-China gangs out there who critise no matter what we do, but that doesn't mean our problems don't exist, not worth mentioning, or you have to beat these people up. Focusing on the problems and resolve them is the key

JiaMing

August 3, 2008 1:13 AM

April,
You assertion that Chinese people all love the party is plainly wrong. On the internet inside China, people routinely criticize the government. But the things that they criticize Beijing for are not the subjects that West wants to see Chinese get angry over. For example, Chinese netizens were very angry about China's recent agreement with Japan to jointly develop the oil and gas fields in the disputed waters of the East China Sea. Words like "traitor" were used to discribe the Communist government. This is true dissent that a great number of Chinese expressed openly against the government and the communist party. These dissidents are hundreds of times greater in number than the human rights activists in China. The West simply dismiss them as nationalists.

Human rights are important, but when the West chose to mix the Tibetan independence activists' ambitions with human rights, it had instantly lost any moral grounds on which to criticize China in the eyes of most Chinese. Through the behavior of the Western media during the Tibet riots in March this year, the West has done a far better job of uniting Chinese behind the Communist Party than Hu Jingtao could ever imagine. This is the reality that Westerners must face.

Jeff

August 5, 2008 9:17 AM

When you work your way through the walls of prejudice and stereotype that cloud this particular issue, things are really quite simple. Whether it’s dog meat or cat meat or salamander meat, people don’t eat their pets. And this quite regardless of where they live, what culture they grew up in, and the animals they happen to keep as pets. Let's not be too hasty to accuse.

http://void-deck.blogspot.com/2008/08/poor-dogs.html

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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