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YULIN, China -- China's state-run media has waded into the snarling debate between dog meat aficionados and activists, instead advocating peaceful ways to get their respective messages across.
An editorial published in the People's Daily says "dogs are friends as well as food" and calls for calm and understanding from both dog-eaters and dog-lovers.
The annual dog meat and lychee festival held in Yulin, Guizhou to celebrate the summer solstice has sparked heated debate between animal rights activists and dog meat-eaters.
Dog meat is traditionally considered a delicacy in parts of China, including the southern Chinese province of Guizhou where the festival dates back hundreds of years.
Animal rights activists say dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone, their meat selling for up to $6 a kilogram.
The festival has triggered outrage amongst pet-lovers in China, who deem the festival cruel and unethical.
The state-run People's Daily says the physical clashes between dog-eaters and lovers that have been reported are regrettable situations that should be avoided.
The editorial cites a series of works created by the celebrated monk Master Hong Yi and pioneering ink cartoonist Feng Zikai, in which images and poetry are used to persuade people not to harm living things.
The works are held as an example of a peaceful way for activists to convince dog-eaters of their position.
The writer also cites a personal childhood anecdote in which his uncle decided to bury the dead family dog instead of eating it, despite the lack of meat in the family's diet at the time. His uncle explained that the dog had been with the family for so long that it was "half a man."
But not everyone shares this view of dogs, the writer emphasizes.
"Truly civilized behavior is to be endeared by opposing opinions and to respect ecological diversity, don't you think?" the piece asks.
The Global Times, an English newspaper published by the People's Daily, explains that the majority of Chinese society is not keen on eating dog meat, while anti-dog meat sentiment is originally a Western influence that is growing alongside the trend of keeping pets in China's urban areas.