Cat activists storm Chinese restaurant
The incipient animal rights movement in China scored an unlikely victory at the weekend when it invaded a restaurant advertising cat meatballs.
About 40 activists stormed into the Fangji cat meatball restaurant, in Shenzhen, just over the border from Hong Kong, and forced it to close.
Outside, they hung banners that said: "Cats and dogs are friends of humans. Stop eating them, please."
Attitudes to domestic animals have until recently been seen as one of the great East-West cultural divides. Dogs are a delicacy in Korea and China.
Cats are eaten less but are a speciality in parts of the south, as are rat, civet cat, spiny anteaters and others.
But animal rights organisations are growing more active as the number of people keeping pets rises.
The owner of the Fangji restaurant said he would stop serving cat. Apparently he had warning of the attack, as no live animals were found on the premises. But a skinned cat was found in the fridge, causing some protesters to burst into tears.
Demonstrators said the restaurant, in south China's Guangdong Province, was singled out because it openly slaughtered cats on the sidewalk and said the bloody sight was unnerving for students. The protest drew a large crowd including children:
Isobel, founder of a cat-protection website based in Shenzhen and organizer of the protest, and other activists started the protest at 4 p.m. with a white rose on the chest in memory of the slaughtered cats, holding banners and handing out handbills to denounce eating cats and dogs.
Isobel, in her 30s, told Xinhua over telephone on Sunday that they chose the restaurant Fangji Cat Meatball because it slaughtered cats in the street and "it is very bad for the students from nearby schools."
In many parts of China especially the southern regions, people take cat meat as their favorite diet. Previous reports said that in Guangzhou alone the citizens ate 10,000 cats every day in the winter season.
There were no live cats in the restaurant as the owner, according to an eyewitness, relocated them to other places on Friday night.
"I cannot go on with my business, and I will not sell cat meat any more," the restaurant owner said after removing his shop sign from the wall. However, he persisted in Guangdong there is a tradition in eating cats.
"We will continue to protest if this restaurant still sells cat meat," Isobel said.
To her satisfaction, many students on the spot told Isobel that they would keep a close watch on the restaurant and report to her if anything happens to cats.
Eating cats and dogs is often seen in Guangdong, but "you cannot keep eating only because it is a tradition," Isobel argued.
Also spotted on a shelf in the restaurant's kitchen was a cookbook entitled "101 Ways to Wok Your Dog."
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