2 August 2016

Last Friday was the International Day of the Tiger – Global Tiger Day – nominated in May this year at a UN Environment Assembly, as part of the Wild for Life campaign run by UN Environment Programme, the UN Development Programme, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime,  and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

In China there was an anthropomorphic spin on the day, with General Guo Boxiong, one of the regime’s tigers as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission (President Xi Jinping is Chairman of the Central Military Commission) was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes to arrange promotions. Guo was stripped of his rank, deprived of his political rights for life, and his assets were confiscated.  Guo’s bribes were “extremely huge” and his crimes were “extremely serious.”

In 2013 when Xi became General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President of the People’s Republic of China he made an anti-corruption commitment to crack down on both “tigers” (senior officials) and “flies” (lower ranks). Although his predecessor regularly spoke of the importance of tackling corruption, the pace and prominence of compliance measures appear to have increased.  English language media carry frequent reports; the Shanghai Daily has a navigation bar for All Flies and Tigers Articles, and ChinaFile has an interactive tool for reporting on Tigers and Flies  by rank, location, sector, date etc.

Another report last week illustrates the probable use of the tigers and flies programme to neutralise political opposition.  Zhang Yue, a former standing member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) committee in Hebei Province  was charged with “extravagance and hedonism”.  He had been absent without official leave during important missions, he practised “superstitious” activities, sought benefits for others, attended banquets, played golf, and accepted gifts and money in violation of the Party’s clean-governance rules. He traded power and money for sex and interfered in construction projects and judicial activities.  Zhang had “lost his beliefs, seriously violated the Party’s code of conduct and did not end his inappropriate behaviour after the CPC 18th National Congress” (when Xi was appointed as President).  Zhang was removed from office, his assets were confiscated and he was expelled from the Party.