This story has it all from culinary, cultural, legal and political angles. Chinese police have arrested a local Communist party official from Guangdong for poisoning the boiled cat stew of a billionaire, Long Liyuan, 49. The accused, Huang Guang, is deputy director of agriculture in Guangdong’s Bajia township and was in a business dispute with Long.
Police say that the death on December 23rd was originally blamed on the restaurant, but the billionaires family pointed out that Huang was in a business dispute over the interest of the men in the cutting down of woodland in the area. That is when they met with a third man for a hot heaping bowl of cat meat. Huang Wen, a friend of Long’s, said he had only eaten a little because it tasted “more bitter” than usual. Police believe Huang used the herb Gelsemium elegans (shown right), a poisonous plant is found in forests in parts of China.
It appears that Huang Wen’s is such a connoisseur of cat stew to know that this one is a bit bitter. What is missing from the coverage is the subject of the meeting. China continues to experience rampant corruption and the destruction of natural areas. Here a Communist official was actively involved in dealmaking over such lands but it does not appear to be as notable as the cat stew. The story was actually reported by a newspaper controlled by the Communist party and may have been an effort to assure increasingly rebellious citizens that officials were not above the law.
What is also interesting is that all three men were reportedly made sick, though Long died of cardiac arrest. If the allegations are true, Huang intentionally poisoned himself to cover his tracks — a dangerous gamble to eat enough to be credible but not enough to be fatal. That is something right out of a Perot mystery . . . or a different taste on the poison scene from Princess Bride with the villian Zizzini:
By the way, the lovers of cat stew are not limited to China. Indeed, Australian officials discouraged eating cat meat but admitted that it is perfectly legal to boil Tinkerbell if you are more interested in a meal than a pet.