Like with so many aspects of modern Chinese life, middle-class aspirations outpace local laws. In Beijing, dogs taller than 35 cm at the shoulder are banned in town, although when I lived there a couple years ago my residential compound housed huskies, golden retrievers, Samoyeds and even an old English sheepdog and Irish wolfhound. During the occasional crackdowns on unregistered or oversized dogs, owners kept these pets inside during daylight, lest government dog-catchers seize and bludgeon the animals to death.
Charmed by their poodles, corgis and bichon frises, Chinese are campaigning against an East Asian tradition as old, perhaps, as canine companionship: consumption of dog meat. Around 10 million dogs are killed for meat in China each year, according to animal-rights groups. Petitions opposing an annual dog-meat (and lychee) festival in the southern Chinese city of Yulin have drawn millions of signatures nationwide, while another such canine culinary event was halted by public pressure. China has no animal-cruelty laws, and animal activists say that stolen pets often end up in slaughterhouses.
Now an online campaign is calling for the relocation of the 2019 World Dog Show, which is to be held in Shanghai, unless the Yulin festival is closed down.