Dec 19

An example of Western demonization/dehumanization of China

Written by guest on Friday, December 19th, 2008 at 9:08 am
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Would an Indian reporter write about Western savages eating the holly cows,
Or Muslim reporter write about Western infidels eating pigs?
Taking matters out of cultural context, this piece of “news” is aimed at nothing but to demonize and dehumanize China, typical craft of the free press spin master.


* China pet lovers protest cats as food Slideshow: China pet lovers protest cats as food
By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer William Foreman, Associated Press Writer – Thu Dec 18, 9:06 pm ET

GUANGZHOU, China – While animal lovers in Beijing protested the killing of cats for food on Thursday, a butcher in Guangdong province — where felines are the main ingredient in a famous soup — just shrugged her shoulders and wielded her cleaver. “Cats have a strong flavor. Dogs taste much better, but if you really want cat meat, I can have it delivered by tomorrow,” said the butcher, who gave only her surname, Huang.

It was just this attitude that outraged about 40 cat lovers who unfurled banners in a tearful protest outside the Guangdong government office in Beijing. Many were retirees who care for stray felines they said were being rounded up by dealers.

“We must make them correct this uncivilized behavior,” said Wang Hongyao, who represented the group in submitting a letter urging the provincial government to crack down on traders and restaurants, although they were breaking no laws.

The protest was the latest clash between age-old traditions and the new sensibilities made possible by China\’s growing affluence. Pet ownership was once rare because the Communist Party condemned it as bourgeois and most people simply couldn’t afford a cat or dog.

The protesters’ indignation was whipped up by recent reports in Chinese newspapers about the cat meat industry. On Monday, the Southern Metropolis Daily — a Guangdong paper famous for its exposes and aggressive reporting — ran a story that said about 1,000 cats were transported by train to Guangdong each day.

The animals came from Nanjing, a major trading hub for cats, the newspaper said. They were brought to market by dealers on motorcycles, crammed into wooden crates and sent to Guangdong on trains. A photo showed a cat with green eyes peering from a crowded crate.

Some people in Nanjing spend their days “fishing for cats,” often stealing pets, the report said.

One cat owner in Guanghzou said people are afraid to let their pets leave the house for fear they will get nabbed.

“It’s never been this bad. Who knows, it might be because of the bad economy. I’ve heard that there are cat-nabbing syndicates from Hunan that are rounding up cats,” said the man, who would only give his surname, Lai, because he feared the cat business might be run by gangsters.

Animal protection groups have occasionally ambushed truck convoys loaded with bamboo cages filled with cats bound for Guangdong. In one recent case, hundreds of cats escaped after their cages were opened, though hundreds more remained penned in the vehicle.

Lai Xiaoyu, who was involved in the attempted “rescue,” said authorities couldn’t stop the cat shipment because the traders said the animals were to be raised as pets.

“The police did what they could, but there’s little they can do to stop or punish those traders from shipping live animals,” Lai said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, issued a statement Thursday decrying the cruel treatment.

“China has no animal protection laws, and throughout the country scores of cats and dogs are bred or rounded up, crammed onto trucks and driven for days under hellish conditions to animal markets, where they are beaten to death, strangled or boiled alive,” said a spokesman for the group, Michael V. McGraw.

Guangdong is home to the Cantonese people, famous for being the most adventurous eaters in China. There\’s a popular saying: “The Cantonese will eat anything that flies, except airplanes, and anything with legs, except a chair.”

Zhu Huilian, a nutrition and food safety professor at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangdong’s capital, Guangzhou, said people usually eat cat in restaurants, not at home.

“There’s a famous soup called ‘Dragon, Tiger and Phoenix,'” Zhu said. “It involves cooking snake, cat and chicken together. In winter more people eat cats as they believe it’s extra nutritious.”

The wide-ranging Cantonese culinary tastes are on display daily in Guangzhou, also known as Canton, in the Qing Ping Market. Shopkeepers sit behind cages full of writhing snakes, tubs with turtles and plastic basins with mounds of scorpions crawling over each other.

That’s where the butcher, Huang, sells her meat, sliced on a blood-soaked cutting board in a stall filled with cages of chickens and rabbits.

Hanging on a hook from its head — with its snout cut cleanly off — was a skinned dog with a long curly tail, paws with small clumps of fur still on them and black claws. The dog’s jaw bone was displayed in a metal tray beneath the carcass.

“The cat meat we sell comes from legitimate sources,” said Huang, who gave only her surname because her boss doesn’t allow her to speak to reporters. “It’s from cat farms. The animals are raised the same way cows are.”

She said cat meat sold for about $1.32 a pound, while dog meat was cheaper, at about 95 cents a pound. Chicken was the best buy at 62 cents a pound, while lamb sold for about $1.32.

Huang said customers had to order cat meat a day in advance because it doesn’t sell as well as dog.

“Cat tastes a bit like lamb. I don’t like it much,” she said. “Young cats are tender, but the meat on the older ones is really tough. Usually old people like eating it.”


Associated Press writer Gillian Wong in Beijing, researchers Xi Yue in Beijing and Ji Chen in Shanghai, and Carley Petesch in New York contributed to the report.

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21 Responses to “An example of Western demonization/dehumanization of China”

  1. FOARP Says:

    “Would an Indian reporter write about Western savages eating the holly cows”

    – Yes

    ” . . .Or Muslim reporter write about Western infidels eating pigs?”

    – Double yes

    As for the whole bit about “Western” media “dehumanizing” China – I think you need to read the story again, and actually try to explain why you think this is so – including the relevant passages which demonstrate your opinion. Otherwise you have ceased to be ‘Facts’ and have simply become ‘Opinions’.

  2. Steve Says:

    I read the article and couldn’t make the correlation that you made. I agree with FOARP; where are the examples? This seemed like a typical story to me, nothing unusual or opinionated. Outside of PETA (who slams everyone), the criticisms are all from Chinese sources.

  3. S.K. Cheung Says:

    The poster is looking for shadows that go poof in the night….and for lack of one, resorts to the same old “evil western media” mantra. Geez louise, is there a playbook for this sort of antic?
    The report is about CHINESE people complaining about other CHINESE people’s culinary preferences. It’s not some New Yorker complaining about Garfield in his soup. So seriously, where’s the beef? Or cat meat, for that matter?
    If this is a supposed example of western demonization of China, then I suppose western coverage of the tainted milk scandal would also qualify (since that was Chinese people selling tainted milk to other Chinese people). So it looks like Facts will only be happy if western media only report Chinese feel-good stories…but isn’t that what Xinhua is for?

  4. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung

    I agree with your comments. This post is a non-starter. For the most part, I think Facts is just “loaded for bear and looking for any excuse to start shooting”. And this is a pitiful excuse.

    As far as PETA goes, thank god that the Chinese mentioned here aren’t selling the cat and dog hair for fur coats. 😀

    This issue here sounds similar to Vietnam. I have friends in Vietnam who dislike the practice of eating thit cho (dog) at the end of the lunar month (Thit Cho picture). They consider it next to barbaric. But there are those who eat dog meat for luck. And there are signs at various restaurants proclaiming the availability of thit cho. And crude American jokes about Vietnamese restaurants in the US.

    Facts wrote, “Taking matters out of cultural context, this piece of “news” is aimed at nothing but to demonize and dehumanize China, typical craft of the free press spin master.” As I said before and you also said, SK, I think he is just disgusted with us evil Western demons and devils. We are just using the poor unsuspecting Chinese mentioned in this report as “cudgels” with which to club China. The nerve of the AP! 😉

    We have no right, in Facts’ (or lack thereof, if you will) opinion, to print or discuss anything about China. None, zip, nada. Unless we first get his imprimatur. And he makes such statements as if he were speaking “ex cathedra”, which apparently he has moved from Vatican City to Beijing.

  5. Wukailong Says:

    @S.K. Cheung: “It’s not some New Yorker complaining about Garfield in his soup.”


  6. facts Says:

    Just read the last paragraph, then stick your heads back to the sand.

  7. FOARP Says:

    “Cat tastes a bit like lamb. I don’t like it much,” she said. “Young cats are tender, but the meat on the older ones is really tough. Usually old people like eating it.”

    Is this the paragraph you are talking about? What exactly is it that you find objectionable about it?

  8. Jerry Says:

    @Facts #6

    Hold a second, please; I have to shake the sand out of my hair. 😉

    This article may be demonization, at least in your imagination. But it is highly ineffective demonization. I would expect that if propagandistic demonization is to be judged effective (As I imagine it is in China. Don’t know? And since you moved the chair, I can no longer speak “ex cathedra”. 😀 ), somebody would pay attention. Well, I went out to Yahoo and then to 3 “share” sites. Reddit – 0 comments. Digg – 8 diggs (I added a dig) and 2 comments including “I’ll have the Feline Mignon”. Newsvine – 6 comments, 2 votes up on the AP report on Yahoo; 12 comments on MSNBC’s site; 33 comments on WRAL.com for covering AP writer Gillian Wong’s and Xi Yue’s story. Underwhelming response at best! Man, we Western devils are just going to have to fire or reprimand Wong and Foreman. If they can’t provoke the storming of the Chinese Embassy and Consulates with effective, demonistic Western propaganda, then there is no hope for them. 😀

    You might want to check with us next time you venture out into the world of Western propaganda. I am sure that we can provide some more effective fodder for your currently underutilized “cannon”. Like Willie Pesek’s piece in Bloomberg, “China, India Looking More `Third World’ Again” where he wrote:

    China is doing its best to show it’s on top of things. Its efforts seem more like growing panic than steady policy making. The central bank cut its key interest rate by the most in 11 years last week, and the government said “forceful” measures were needed to arrest a faster-than-expected economic decline. …

    China and India were touted as the saviors of world growth, but very quickly they’re looking third world again, so investors are stampeding for the exit …

    Chinese officials must be miffed that their economic miracle is being interrupted by a crisis emanating from the U.S. That’s the risk you run when you create what’s essentially a one-trick economy.

    Or Jacques Leslie’s article in Mother Jones titled “The Last Empire: China’s Pollution Problem Goes Global”

    The catch is that China has become not just the world’s manufacturer but also its despoiler, on a scale as monumental as its economic expansion. Chinese ecosystems were already dreadfully compromised before the Communist Party took power in 1949, but Mao managed to accelerate their destruction. With one stroke he launched the “backyard furnace” campaign, in which some 90 million peasants became grassroots steel smelters; to fuel the furnaces, villagers cut down a 10th of China’s trees in a few months. The steel ultimately proved unusable. With another stroke, Mao perpetrated the “Kill the Four Pests” campaign, inducing the mass slaughter of millions of sparrows and a subsequent explosion in the locust population. The destruction of forests led to erosion and the spread of deserts, and the locust resurgence prompted a collapse of the nation’s grain crop. The result was history’s greatest famine, in which 30 to 50 million Chinese died.

    Yet the Mao era’s ecological devastation pales next to that of China’s current industrialization. A fourth of the country is now desert. More than three-fourths of its forests have disappeared. Acid rain falls on a third of China’s landmass, tainting soil, water, and food. Excessive use of groundwater has caused land to sink in at least 96 Chinese cities, producing an estimated $12.9 billion in economic losses in Shanghai alone. Each year, uncontrollable underground fires, sometimes triggered by lightning and mining accidents, consume 200 million tons of coal, contributing massively to global warming. A miasma of lead, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and other elements of coal-burning and car exhaust hovers over most Chinese cities; of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, 16 are Chinese. …

    … The surge in untreated waste and agricultural runoff pouring into the Yellow and China Seas has caused frequent fish die-offs and red-tide outbreaks, and overfishing is endangering many ocean species. The growing Chinese taste for furs and exotic foods and pets is devastating neighboring countries’ populations of gazelles, marmots, foxes, wolves, snow leopards, ibexes, turtles, snakes, egrets, and parrots, while its appetite for shark fin soup is causing drastic declines in shark populations throughout the oceans; according to a study published in Science in March 2007, the absence of the oceans’ top predators is causing a resurgence of skates and rays, which are in turn destroying scallop fisheries along America’s Eastern Seaboard. China’s new predilection for sushi is even pricing Japan out of the market for bluefin tuna. Enthusiasm for traditional Chinese medicine, including its alleged aphrodisiacs, is causing huge declines in populations of hundreds of animals hunted for their organs—including tigers, pangolins, musk deer, sea horses, and sea dragons. Seeking oil, timber, gold, copper, cobalt, uranium, and other natural resources, China is building massive roads, bridges, and dams throughout Africa, often disregarding international environmental and social standards. Finally, China overtook the United States as the world’s leading emitter of CO2 in 2006, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

    All this is common knowledge among the scholars and activists who follow Chinese environmental trends. The news, however, has not yet shaken China out of its money-induced euphoria. One indication is that China’s 10 percent growth rate takes no account of the environmental devastation the boom has caused. In June 2006, an official at China’s State Council said environmental damage (everything from crop loss to health care costs) was costing 10 percent of its gross domestic product—in other words, all of the economy’s celebrated growth. Vaclav Smil, a highly respected China scholar at the University of Manitoba, pegs the environmental-damage rate at between 5 and 15 percent, with 7 percent a “solid, defensible figure.” Smil says that shorn of hype, China’s growth rate is also likely 7 percent, “so basically every year environmental damage wipes out the GDP growth.”

    At the other end are the wood suppliers, almost all poor countries with weak or corrupt law enforcement and a flourishing trade in illegal lumber. Among China’s leading wood importers, Thailand and the Philippines have already been stripped of their natural forests; Indonesia and Burma are projected to lose theirs within a decade. Papua New Guinea’s will succumb within 16 years, and the vast forests of the Russian Far East will survive no more than two decades. Even so, Forest Trends, a Washington-based nonprofit, estimates that China’s wood imports will probably double over the next decade. Chinese manufacturers are already developing replacement sources in Africa, and South America’s forests are under threat for a different reason: China’s growing consumption of pork and chicken is fed by soybeans grown on newly cleared Amazonian land; by one estimate, 30 percent of the jungle could eventually be transformed into soybean fields. …

    … Chinese wood purchases have also helped finance armed conflicts conducted by such international pariahs as Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, Burma’s military government, and the now-deposed regime of Liberia’s Charles Taylor. “China is the number one buyer of timber from many of the countries most affected by the scourge of illegal logging,” the EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency) reported in 2005. The largest supplier of timber to China is Russia, where an estimated half of all logging is illegal. In Siberia, pine forests are largely protected unless damaged by fire, so loggers intent on exporting wood to China routinely set the woods ablaze.

    Ahhhh! Now this is the kind of demonization that I, a Western demon/devil, can appreciate. Only we call it good reporting and commentary. 😀 ::LOL:: So if you want real material at which to fire with your ineffectual cannon, just give us a ring. I am sure we could help. 😀

  9. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Fiction (aka the artist formerly calling itself Facts):
    the “last paragraph’??? Wtf? Read FOARP #7. This makes your point….how??? You must have a large burr inserted deeply into your nether regions.

  10. S.K. Cheung Says:

    BTW, Fiction, you have become my latest pet project. You must be the new BXBQ. Looking forward to your next 60mph curveball hanging out over the middle part of the plate….

  11. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #9, 10

    It is illegal to have this much fun. The new BXBQ? Hmmmm… Maybe the new and improved BXBQ? If you can call this improved? 😀 ::LOL::

    Listen, SK, this is just waaayyy too easy. But it is oh so much fun. My expat friends here have warned me about this kind of discussion with certain Chinese. Fact’s arguments (?) seem teleological, reverse-engineered and circular. And sometimes the craziest non-sequiturs and paradigm changes I have ever seen. And all of this based on a report by a Beijing-based AP writer, Gillian Wong (she wrote the original article, I discovered) about a Chinese protest regarding cat meat in Guangdong. ::shaking my head:: ::LMAO::

  12. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung

    Is there some way we can get the Gov General to prorogue him? Maybe ice-jacking? 😀 ::LMAO::

  13. HongKonger Says:

    ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona,’ by Woody Allen…I love this movie-! How beautiful Spain is – in the movie anyway.

    Be warned , though. If you are one of those over-sensitive CHinese – don’t go see this movie, because…..um,….well, on second thought, maybe not, the censor might’ve snipped it off, anyway.

    Wow, poor Facts is receiving blows from all sides – left hooks, powerful rights, bruised solar plexus, gasping for air. Cut eyes, bleeding, nose broken, mucus running, and yet he remains standing, eager to come out fighting after 13 gruesome rounds in the ring. Gotta give it to him there.

  14. Wukailong Says:

    First I wonder if it was my “LOL” that was the last paragraph, but apparently not. I like the idea of using articles, preferably hundreds of them, to prove media bias or at least have a discussion about it, and I think it could be proved that Western media has a bias against China. But is it on a cultural level (“Chinese are backwards and barbarian”) or on a political one (“My god, they are ruled by a communist party!”)? Methinks the latter, but I believe facts thinks the former. And that is basically what this tiring debate is all about…

  15. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To HKer:
    I find Spain less compelling than Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson, but I digress…

    On a completely different note, on a different thread there is a discussion about translating a phrase like “to offend someone”. I thought the Chinese phrase would be “duct jieu” in Cantonese, but I can’t type Chinese characters; and you’re one of the few in these parts who speaks Cantonese. I was wondering if you agree with that phrase as the proper translation, and if so, if you know how to type it online? Thanks.

  16. Charles Liu Says:

    You know, every culture have their own food animal that is “unique”. Some Swiss eat fattened cat for Christmas, and during WWII dogs and cats practically disappeared from the streets.

    What about rabbit? They are pet and food? Did God say rabbit can be both, but not dog and cat?

    What about foie gras and veal? The way factory farms in US treat the animals is worse than what’s happening to those dogs and cats (which aren’t pets but food animal accorind to their cultural sensitivity) in China.

  17. FOARP Says:

    @Charles – Your point? Or is it just that you hate anyone criticising China, even Chinese people, and even though you have never lived on mainland China.

  18. Charles Liu Says:

    Foarse, the point is the Chinese ain’t that different from us. Horse meat has a savory history from your neck of the woods. But we Americans detest eating horse so much, we outlawed export of horse meat to Europe.

  19. FOARP Says:

    @Charlie – People don’t eat horse meat in the UK, but they do in France – however this piece is NOT an editorial criticising the eating of dog and cat meat in China. What it IS is a piece reporting Chinese people protesting against these practices.

    Seriously, I give up. You can go on spending your days fantasising about some grand conspiracy amongst the western media to harm China, I don’t care any more.

  20. Wukailong Says:

    @FOARP, Charles: Isn’t it called “cheval” rather than “horse meat”?

  21. Jerry Says:

    @Wukailong #

    WKL, vous etes exact. C’est ca, monsieur.

    Cheval is either a horse or horsemeat. The French also say “la viande de cheval” for horsemeat. The plural of cheval is chevaux.

    BTW, why am I, a vegetarian, answering a question on eating meat? ::LOL:: 😀

    So is Edith Piaf’s song titled, “La vie en rose”? Ou “La viande rose”? ::LOL:: 😉

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