A Chinese dog meat supplier who supported a controversial dog meat festival in south China has come under fire, reigniting the furor over the cullinary tradition.
Fan Xiantao, owner of a dog meat processing plant in east China's Jiangsu Province and a chain of dog meat restaurants, confirmed to Xinhua on Saturday that he is planning a similar festival in his hometown this year, a symbolic move in support of the city of Yulin.
"It has nothing to do with the local government," Fan said: The county government deny any role in organizing the festival.
This month, Yulin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region went ahead with its dog meat festival despite fierce criticism from animal welfare groups. The annual event sees diners from home and abroad crowd the food streets to enjoy delights ranging from hotpot to stew, all with dog meat as the staple ingredient.
Protesters claim the demand encourages abduction of strays and pets, but supporters of the event say the meat comes from local dog farms.
Fan's hometown of Peixian is also well known for its dog meat and a biennial dog meat festival which Fan organizes. The next Peixian dog meat festival was scheduled for next year.
Fan, who claims to be a descendent of Fan Kuai, a general famous for his appetite for dog meat, has decided to bring the festival forward one year, following the Yulin hullabaloo.
His decision has drawn an Internet firestorm, just when the previous bombardment over Yulin was dying down.
Microbloggers on Sina Weibo accuse Fan of cashing in on the low key Yulin festival.
"It seems that the dog meat enthusiasts who were frustrated in Yulin can find their next bloody feast in Peixian," said Weibo user Xiaoyihao. "Fan can make a fortune by continuing to slaughter innocent animals."
Fan, obviously under pressure, told Xinhua that the dog meat event he plans will be on a very small scale, with no outsiders. "Only 100-plus people will participate in our festival."
Similar to the ruckus Yulin's dog meat festival provoked, opinion is sharply divided. Fan's fans say that eating dog meat is a personal choice while opponents insist that it is a moral, animal welfare and sanitation issue.