Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - BRONTE HOWARD Re­porter bronte.howard@waleson­line.co.uk

NEARLY 20,000 peo­ple have now signed a pe­ti­tion call­ing on New­port City Coun­cil to end its twin­ning agree­ment with a Chi­nese prov­ince that hosts a dog meat fes­ti­val.

Matthew James, 24, kick-started the pe­ti­tion more than a year ago af­ter find­ing out New­port was twinned with Guangxi in south­ern China, a region with around 40 mil­lion res­i­dents.

Ev­ery year, the city of Yulin in the Guangxi prov­ince hosts the 10-day Ly­chee and Dog Meat Fes­ti­val and it is thought that more than 10,000 dogs are killed and eaten.

Mr James’ pe­ti­tion gained mo­men­tum re­cently and had at­tracted more than 19,000 sig­na­tures as of last night.

The mar­ket­ing grad­u­ate from New­port said he would de­liver the pe­ti­tion to New­port coun­cil once it reached 20,000.

Speak­ing to the South Wales Ar­gus, Mr James said: “The Yulin Dog Fes­ti­val has no place in mod­ern so­ci­ety. To find out that New­port is twinned with the prov­ince in which it takes place just felt wrong.

“I had no idea this many peo­ple would sign it. I thought maybe a cou­ple of hun­dred, but I’m de­lighted it’s taken off the way it has.

“I will con­sider tak­ing it to the coun­cil go­ing forward be­cause a lot of peo­ple in New­port clearly have strong feel­ings about it.

“When it gets to 20,000, I think that will be a strong po­si­tion to ap­proach the coun­cil from. I’ve been check­ing the page since setting it up and it’s been grow­ing steadily.

“I feel very strongly about this is­sue, and I de­cided to put it to the test. It’s a year in and this is the first time it’s been picked up by any me­dia, but there’s clearly a strong base of sup­port for the idea.”

A spokesman for New­port coun­cil said it would “con­sider the pe­ti­tion in line with coun­cil pol­icy if and when it receives it”.

Eat­ing dog meat in main­land China is le­gal and the meat is pop­u­lar in tra­di­tional win­ter dishes.

But the dog meat fes­ti­val has at­tracted crit­i­cism both within China and glob­ally, with An­i­mal Asia call­ing it a “hor­ri­fy­ing tragedy” and claim­ing more than 10,000 dogs are eaten each year.

The RSPCA has also said it is work­ing with Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties to stop cru­elty to dogs by cre­at­ing new laws.

Cooked dogs await cus­tomers at a stall in Yulin, in south­ern China’s Guangxi prov­ince

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