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The following two paragraphs have been culled from the Economists Magazine of July 17th,
2017 under the title “Why China’s dog-meat market has expanded”
Page 4 of 4
Contrary to cliché, dog meat has not always been a common item in the Chinese diet. Unlike
in the West, eating dogs has never been taboo, but it appears to have been rare in the past.
Government accounts single out butchers who sold dog meat, suggesting it was unusual and
worthy of record. According to Guo Peng of Shandong University, one of the few people to
have studied the dog-meat market, only China’s ethnic Korean minority eat dog with regularity.
The majority Han population, she argues, see it as a medicinal food, which is believed to warm
the body in winter or cool it in summer—hence the timing of the Yulin festival at the mid-year
solstice, literally the dog days of summer. Traditionally, Mrs Guo says, most people have only
eaten dog once a year, if at all. According to a survey conducted in 2016 by Dataway Horizon,
a polling firm, and Capital Animal Welfare Association, a Chinese NGO, almost 70% of
Chinese people say they have never eaten dog. Of those who have, most claim they did so by
accident—when invited to a social or business dinner, for example.
So why is the Yulin festival packed? And why do restaurants in many cities proudly put dog
on the menu? The one-word answer is: criminality. Dog meat, a bit like drugs, has become a
lucrative source of criminal income. For the past decade Mrs Guo has been going from village
to village in Shandong province, on the east coast, asking inhabitants what has been happening
to their animals. In one, villagers told her that a third of their dogs had been stolen between
2007 and 2011. Hunters, she discovered, have been roaming the countryside in vans, killing
dogs with poisoned darts and selling them on to middlemen. Hunters got about 10 yuan ($1.30)
for a kilogram of meat, so a medium-sized dog might be worth 70-80 yuan. One young man
she interviewed was hunting so he could earn enough to get married. Hunted dog meat has
increased the supply and lowered prices (compared with what they were), boosting the size of
the overall market.
a) State the main supply condition identified in the above paragraphs as having caused the
lowering of prices of dog meat in China.
b) State any two demand factors that are identified in the above paragraphs as having
caused the lowering of prices of dog meat in China.
c) Starting at an equilibrium price and quantity demanded and supplied, show by way of
a diagram and with full explanations how the lower prices and increased quantity of
dog meat in China occurred.
d) In the same article, the writer notes that
“In villages, dogs are still guardians. In big cities, they are increasingly pets.
The number of dogs registered as pets in Beijing (for example) has been
growing at 25% a year for a decade. It now stands at about 2m, more than in
New York. Concern for animal welfare has been growing in parallel, indicated
by an increase in animal hospitals, animal-rescue and adoption agencies and
changing attitudes. Increasingly, animal-welfare concerns are coming into
conflict with dog hunters and dog-meat eaters.”
By making use of demand and supply curves show how the above factors in (d) will
eventually probably snuff out the dog meat trade in China cause of very low prices.
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