At 11 this morning, the following was posted to the blog of Guan Ke, the head of the Shaanxi Forestry Department's publicity office:
It's all over
Since it's daylight, then let's clear everything up!
Yes, I love Shaanxi, I love Zhenping, I love the South China Tiger. Am I wrong to want better things for my home?
This affair has nothing to do with the forestry department, and nothing to do with the Zhenping government. It was entirely the work of my hands. Zhou is a good guy; why don't you leave him alone? I will take responsibility for whatever problems there are. I'm a man who will do what I say.
Whether or not there is a South China Tiger, doesn't this primeval forest deserve protection anyway? Only if we start protecting it today can we face our children and grandchildren without regret. Before the South China Tiger, what was it that we saw?! A shortage of capital, impoverished rural people - who could guarantee that this untouched, preserved land would not be overwhelmed by the economic tide in the near future? My heart cries, my heart bleeds. Would we have been better to let Qinling become a barren wasteland or a desert?
I am not someone who is easily moved, but over the last month, in the still of the night, I have wept - for my pitiful strength, for the majestic lands of Shaanxi.
Why?! Why?! Why?!
However, shortly thereafter the following appeared on a Tianya comment thread:
I am Guan Ke. I hereby declare that the post "It's all over" that appeared on my Sina blog at 11:05 this morning was not my article and its contents were not my ideas; it was a malicious attempt to frame me. I can no longer log in to my Sina blog; I suspect that it has been hacked. I strongly condemn the hacker's actions. Regardless of whether the tiger photos are genuine, the hacking is in clear violation of the law and has caused serious injury to me. I hope that Sina will thoroughly investigate that post, notify me of the results in a timely fashion, and submit it as evidence to the police for further investigation.
The Sina blog post was taken down at 1 o'clock this afternoon.
Guan Ke has maintained that the photos are genuine. So has Zhu Julong, vice-director of the forestry department. Zhu revealed in an interview with a fairly self-righteous Oriental Morning Post reporter earlier this week just how much is riding on the outcome of the investigation, and why there are still people who refuse to believe the tiger was faked:
Oriental Morning Post: The responsibility of us in the media is to get as close to the truth as possible....We are not with the anti-tiger group, nor are we with the pro-tiger group. We just want to see what the final outcome will be.
Zhu Julong: If, once this thing is through, I am proven to be wrong, then this photo is fake. First, Zhou Zhenglong is a fraud, a swindler who has cheated his way to honor. Second, the forestry office neglected its duties and did not exercise its judgment when it was unable to notice such a big problem. Third, if the Zhenping County government and forestry office participated in the fraud, and if they still solemnly declare "this is real, this is real," then they have had such a negative influence on the party and the country, and they must be held accountable. Dereliction of duty, serious malfeasance, serious neglect - the persons involved must bear responsibility. Of course to what degree they are held accountable I cannot say, it is not my place. And I don't know how the other people will be handled. But since I am saying this to you right now, when the time comes I will take the blame and resign.
The stubbornness of Zhou, Zhu, and Guan inspired one netizen to coin a new four-character idiom. One of the characters in Zhou Zhenglong's name is 龙, "dragon," and there are countless idioms that combine dragons and tigers (think of the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for example). The clever commenter came up with, 正龙拍虎 "zhèng lóng pāi hǔ", which can be read as something like "correct dragon, slapping tiger" or "Zhenglong photographs a tiger."
Here's the proposed definition:
【正龙拍虎】"zhèng lóng pāi hǔ"
1. Refers to an individual or group that commits fraud for profit and refuses to acknowledge it once they are exposed.
2. A lack of social credibility.
1. The Hanxin fraudsters "corrected dragons and slapped tigers," but in the end, they had only themselves to blame.
2. When CNPC went public, the media "corrected dragons and slapped tigers," and the new investors stood atop a peak of 48 yuan.
3. The China Lottery "corrected dragons and slapped tigers" as it once again told the public that a new lotto record had been set for the Double Color Ball game - a lottery player won 102 million yuan, putting lottery players into a tizzy.
The coinage apparently comes from a Netease thread (here are the highlights from the News Sewer blog), but it's popped up in a number of other places. Your correspondent came across the piece in a comment made to a cnBeta thread reporting that Zhou Zhenglong is demanding 400,000 yuan from Netease for releasing 40 of his photos on the internet.
Where could this story possibly go next?
Links and Sources