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Upright dragon pats the tiger

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正龙拍虎 (zhèng lóng pāi hǔ): upright dragon pats the tiger

This phrase, written in the style of traditional four-character idioms, refers to phony pictures of the endangered South China Tiger produced by Zhou Zhenglong (whose name literally means “upright dragon.”) The word “pat” can also mean to “take a picture of.” Much of the humor of the phrase comes from the fact that it sounds like other Chinese idioms that reference ancient fables involving animals.

Zhou’s fake pictures were accepted as authentic by the government until netizens pointed out their uncanny resemblance to a poster published years earlier.


The phrase “upright dragon pats the tiger” which can also be read “Zhenglong takes a picture of a tiger” has two meanings: 1) an instance in which a person or organization, in order to gain profit, commits fraud; when the fraud is revealed they adamantly deny any fraudulent act. 2) when the credibility of something within society is damaged.

Netizens have made efforts for the term to be included in the dictionary, but all major dictionaries so far have been unwilling to add the term.

释义: ① 某人或某集团为利益所驱动而做假,被揭穿后还抵死不认; ② 社会公信力缺失

The 2017 Elementary School Idiom Dictionary which includes the term, "upright dragon pats the tiger."