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."
These people are not being lovingly removed to cozy human zoos.
"Evictions in Beijing often involve the complete demolition of poor people's houses," says the report. "In Beijing, and in China more generally, the process of demolition and eviction is characterized by arbitrariness and lack of due process. Courts often refuse to hear cases concerning forced evictions because of pressure on judges and lawyers from local or higher officials. In many cases, tenants are given little or no notice of their eviction and do not receive the promised compensation. This lack of adequate compensation (or any compensation at all) sometimes leaves the evictees at risk of homelessness. The forced evictions are often violent, and abuses committed during the eviction process have multiplied."
When it comes to using eminent domain, the Chinese communists make the city fathers of New London, Conn., look like amateurs.
Yet another example of the PRC's "scientific view of development" was on display this week when the Dalai Lama, exiled political and religious leader of Tibet, visited Washington, D.C., to receive a Congressional Gold Medal. The Chinese communists threw a tantrum over this, calling America's honoring of the Dalai Lama "a severe violation of the norms of international relations."
Whereas the PRC is merely trying to redevelop whole neighborhoods in Beijing in preparation for the Olympics, it is trying to redevelop the Dalai Lama's entire nation and religion from the face of the earth in preparation for establishing the worker's paradise that communists envision.
Onetime Soviet spy Whittaker Chambers famously wrote in "Witness" that there is only one real struggle in human history. It is between those who worship God and those who worship man, and who believe that "scientific" government plans can create a heaven here and now. There is no doubt which side the regime in Beijing is on.
If you detect a certain similarity between its aims, which are painted in bold colors, and the somewhat paler pursuits of leftists here at home, you may be on to something.
In any event, the Chinese communists have proved once again: You can have a total disregard for the human race and still love cats.