Bowing to cultural imperialism, Beijing shelves dog meat during Olympics, but some see new opportunities
Beijing – Apparently, clamping down on meddlesome human rights agitators, dredging diarrhea-fed algae blooms from poop-tainted harbors and feverishly burning $150-per-barrel oil to reduce coal smog isn't enough as China works to put its best face forward for the Western World during next month's Olympics: now, dog meat is done for, too.
Beijing tourism officials have ordered local restaurants to "discourage" diners from ordering "xiangrou" ("fragrant meat"), as the delicacy is known here. "Although we don't understand why Westerners who happily munch on millions of factory-farmed lambs, calves and pigs each day would object to the inclusion of another mammal on the food chain, we must recognize economic and public relations realities," said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang in a rare unrehearsed statement.
When a hopelessly naïve Chinese reporter asked if the U.S. might similarly encourage restaurants to suspend the serving of beef and pork out of respect for the sensibilities of some visiting athletes and tourists during the next Olympics hosted in the States, William Sharp, chief executive of the United States Olympic Committee, chuckled and tussled the reporter's hair amiably. "Are you kidding me? Dogs are cute! They can feel pain, everybody knows that. Cows don't count. Plus, what would McDonald's think?"
Some sensed a business opportunity amid the controversy. The Chiuaua Racing Association of America (CRA/America) is now in talks with China to export washed-up chiuaua for use as meat. Evener Horn, the association's president, said, "I've got to confess, I wasn't even aware they ate dog in China until I read they were banning dog meat for the Olympics. Imagine that – eating dogs! But right away, I thought, there's a meaningful chance here for us to leapfrog over the current boundaries of our product cycle."
CRA/America has booked readily available space on container shipments that typically return to China empty after delivering their cargos of lead-infused children's chew-toys, drinking bottles and pet food. "We saw all that shipping capacity and that really sealed the deal," said Horn. "We can load the dogs – probably 1,000 dogs per container – and most should arrive still alive in China – we think upwards of 25%. This eliminates the need for processing at the ridiculous labor rates here, and it eliminates the need for refrigeration. The Chinese will still get a ton of fresh product."
Horn said the dog circuit would be routed so that chiuauas nearing the end of their useful racing lives will finish their careers on the West Coast, near deepwater ports where shipping to China is widely available. From racetrack to slaughterhouse, shipments should only take about five days, he said.