The forums called it: the South China Tiger and the citizen journalist

The farce draws to a close.

Chinese netizens can chalk up at least half a win in the case of the South China Tiger photos.

The Shaanxi Forestry Department, which first announced that the photos were genuine at a press conference last October 12, has apologized for jumping the gun and publicizing the images before they were adequately authenticated. But it did not admit that the photos were faked - in fact, the department has pledged to continue to the second authentication process, which began more than forty days ago.

There have been rumors that vice-director Zhu Julong, who once promised to resign if the photos were shown to be fake, has indeed been removed from office, but a source at the Forestry Department said only that Zhu had returned home for the Spring Festival. The fate of Guan Ke and others officials involved in the affair.

Zhou Zhenglong, the photographer who was awarded 20,000 yuan by the Forestry Department, was informed of the apology by a reporter for the Huashang Morning Post. His reaction: the apology was a fake. "These photos are 100% genuine. They are absolutely not fakes!"

Netizens were also proven correct this week when the official cause of death was determined in the case of Wei Wenhua. Wei was beaten by chengguan (城管, "urban enforcers") in Tianmen, Nanjing, on 7 January, after he tried to record their activities with his cell-phone camera.

Wei Wenhua

The official report said that Wei died as a result of trauma-induced acute coronary heart disease. That is, his death was due to a pre-existing condition, and the beating was just the immediate instigator.

On 10 January, a netizen called "Haichuange" made the following prediction on the Tianya BBS:

There has to be a definite conclusion to the Tianmen case, so the only possible solution is to minimize the situation. But how should it be minimized? By making an issue of the cause of death. Then go back and come to an agreement, a compromise, with the family. Finally, dismiss someone directly responsible. This gives something to the leadership and to the people.

The government's top solutions:

1. The deceased has cardiovascular disease, and the beating induced coronary artery disease. The beating was the instigator, but the true cause of death was coronary artery disease. This way, although the chengguan were in the wrong, the deceased died of heart disease; the legal responsibility is self-evident.

The poster continued with deeply cynical predictions: four participants in the beating will be given sentences ranging from death to 2-5 years in prison; a top chengguan official will be dismissed, but later re-appointed to some other position; a Tianmen vice-mayor will be forced to write a self-criticism; the deceased's family will be given financial incentives to reach a compromise; to avoid stirring up public anger against the chengguan, the deceased will not be honored with the title "hero."

The poster also suggested that for the time being, chengguan activity would increase rather than being eliminated altogether, as many people were urging.

On 3 February, following the official report, commenters poured into the thread congratulating the poster for a brilliant display of cynical foresight.

via Hecaitou.

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