I think the answer is not simply yes or no. There are indeed some people eat cat and dogs in China, but I would say the percentage of people eating dogs in China isn't any higher than the percentage of new Nazis in Germany. People get the false impression from the exaggerated news report. I don't know any of my Chinese friend eating dog, nor have I met any case of xenophobia in Germany.
There's no need for me to deny that Chinese do eat almost everything. It is a very rich eating culture, as long as you can imagine. But most people have very healthy and normal diet: rice, a lot of vegetable and little meat (Maybe also McDonald's now).
There is a historic ground for it. For the poor people, thousands year old Chinese history has always been accompanied by huge famine. People are dying of hunger, they have to live and they have no choice, thus they eat everything they find. This is also the same for other parts of the world. Those picky young people, their grandparents have also eaten some "disgusting" food.
From a religion perspective, many religion has certain rules and concept on what should be eaten and what are dirty. For Chinese, all lives are equal. It doesn't matter if someone eat beef or pork or dog.
In the case of dog, there are also cultural reason. Quite surprisingly, in old days in China, dog has been a symbol of snobbishness and cruelty because the rich landlords and tax collectors bring the dogs as accomplice to bully the poor people. And poor people never have a chance to raise a dog for themselves because there are so less to eat. The deep friendship and adoration between man and dog don't widely exist in our culture until recently.
OK, enough for this nasty topic. Then I want to talk about a feeling of mine. Civilizations are turning in a circle. Chinese has develop high level of culinary skills long before the Europeans get command of fire. Ancient record tell us that hundreds of year ago, Chinese describe the foreigners as "with monstrous color of eyes, hair all over the body, emit unpleasant odor." Chinese emperor called the foreigners "barbarian" and disregard their culture, refuse to pay attention or learn from them. Hundreds of years later, the "barbarian" came back. They came back with guns filled with black powder and ships equipped with newest compass, and opium, of course. (China invented the black powder and compass, but use the black powder only for fireworks in new year.)
Today, young Chinese adore Hollywood stars with blue or green eyes, using American shaver and French perfume. Now it is our turn to play the role of "barbarians" and less civilized people. The "more civilized people" make all kind of disgusted facial expression when they hear about those exotic Chinese food (snake, dog...), making fun about the old habits.
I especially don't understand why some people eat so much chicken and pork and beef, even horse and rabbit, without a bad conscience when they care so much about cat and dogs. What is the difference between these life? Why some animal should be slaughtered without any sympathy, some others deserve a luxurious life?
China has experience both the top and the bottom of the civilization. China understand the stupidness of laughing at others culture and being too proud and too blind. China has learned it lessons, and hopefully the lessons serve as a mirror for the civilized people now. Those who stop improving will be defeated and eliminated.
The first obvious reason is the population. China has a huge population, and usually huge classes. The resource is extremely limited, especially the energy of the teachers. In a class of 50 pupils, each pupil will not be treated as an individual, he/she will be regarded as a product on the assembly line. My class in German Gymnasium has always around fifteen student. The teacher will stop to answer each personal question, and always wait until everyone has understood.
More people also means more discipline. Once in my German school, we had a religion class with 27 student. It was an nightmare for the teacher. German students are used to the freestyle, and when there are 27 freestyles in one class... In my Chinese school, students are always reminded that they are a part of the group and it is selfish for them to raise there question in class and waste the time of others.
Another reason is the teacher. During my year in Germany, I have met a lot of young people who want to be a teacher in the future, for kindergarten, for normal schools and for gymnasiums. All my teachers love their job. The quality of teachers is high. I regret to say the situation are not so good in China these days. I have good teacher, I do admit. But on a general level, most of the students who want to be a teacher are coming from the middle (or even lower) level of their own class. Good students want to join Wall Street or work for international companies. Chinese teachers don't earn too much money, and it is not really regarded as a good job.
But the fundamental factor is the system. Almost all troubling problems in China generate from the system.
Let's start from the social code. The stress of life is huge. Young people get to much expectation on them. Parents and grandparents are expecting their success, which is the honor of the whole family. And the definition of success for most Chinese is very narrow: a decent job with attractive salary, purely materialized. To get a good job, people need the diploma from one of those handful of elite universities. So all parents have been telling their children "get into XX University" at the very beginning. (In contrary, young people in Germany seem very carefree and without stress, thanks to the comprehensive social system and Hartz IV).
Then let's see the system of university admission test, or the infamous Gaokao. Students around the whole country take the test in three days, and the final score will decide which university they can get in. The three digit number will tell what their life will be. So it is imaginable that everyone does their best to get the highest possible score. Then what does the test look like? What in the end does it TEST in a student? Unfortunately, The tests reflect the student's knowledge and memory, but not ability. Therefore, all schools and teachers and students themselves are only interested in repeating the knowledge and improve the speed of answering the questions. The mentality and personality have little chance to be developed.
No doubts, these student, when they take hold of their own life, they are far less capable of chasing their own dream, creating a happy life and contribution to the society. I sometimes wonder if they really care about contribute to the society in which they come from, in which they have been "tortured". So much stress and unfairness has squeezed their curiosity and sensitivity to the beauty of life.
Of course, I am trying to describe the worst situation in the paragraphs above. There are a rather big number of really brilliant and ambitious Chinese student. There are always those people who survive and thrive in any situation, and they are the ones to rewrite the rules. But the education of a country is for the general public whose life and happiness are greatly influence by the system they live in.
A good education (elementary and secondary education, before universities) should equip the young people with necessary knowledge, but the more important thing is to develop the creativity, a healthy mentality, team work spirit, communication ability, a positive attitude for life and the ability to pursue a happy and meaningful life.
From this point of view, I would say that the German schools are doing a much better job than the Chinese ones, and I wish to bring what I have experience back to China. We will happily learn from the good examples, and I hope my children (and their contemporaries) will have a real education.