There is something singularly ironic about the Chinese government's exquisite concern for a singular subspecies of cat.
About a year ago, Xinhua, official news agency of the People's Republic, reported that the South China tiger might already be extinct in the wild. Since 1964, none had been seen roaming free. Only 68 survived in captivity, all descended from just two males and four females. "If we can't find any wild South China tigers, they will certainly disappear because of the inbreeding," said Huang Zhihong, a Chinese zoologist.
Beijing launched a campaign to save the wild beast. First, it needed to find one, however. So, it sent 30 zoologists into a likely region hoping to track one down.
At first, the zoologists saw only hopeful hints: large paw tracks, eviscerated herbivore carcasses, promising piles of feline feces.
"All the signs suggest South China tigers still roam the forests," professor Liu Shifeng of Northwest China University told Xinhua last summer.
But the regime was taking no chances. It started storing DNA from captive tigers in case it needed to clone new animals.
Then the happy day arrived. Two weeks ago, a farmer in Shaanxi Province repeatedly shot a South China tiger -- on both film and digital. Zoologists certified it was the real thing. The government awarded the farmer $2,666.
Then, the forest Gestapo shut the woods. Or, as Xinhua reported it, the government "ordered checkpoints ... to prevent uncontrolled entry and protect the endangered species and its habitat."
The Sierra Club would be proud. China's communist regime certainly was.
At China's Communist Party meeting on Monday, Chinese President Hu Jintao let it be known that the term "scientific view of development" was going to be written into the party's constitution. Hu, it turns out, is a green communist. "We must adopt an enlightened approach to development that results in expanded production, a better life, and sound ecological and environmental conditions," he said, according to The New York Times.
Leaving aside the effort to save the South China tiger, another recent example of communist China's "scientific view of development" can be seen in its redevelopment of Beijing in preparation for next year's Olympics. Here, the regime has not been gentle in dealing with the habitat of what it apparently sees as an inferior creature: human beings.
In June, the Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) published a report on the impact that staging an Olympics can have on the homes of humans in host locales. It claims "a total of 1.5 million people (are) being displaced in Beijing due to Olympic-related development."