Greeting Party for Hire

Zhou Zheng

PureInsight | September 19, 2005

[] Let's start with a story:

Once upon a time, there was an elderly gentleman. He loved music and had studied it for decades. But he never had the opportunity to perform in a formal setting and receive cheers from the audience at the end of the performance. As he got older, sadness came upon him whenever he thought about it. One of his students knew how he felt and had an idea. One day, the elderly gentleman sat on the stage of an empty music hall and practiced intently. When he finished, thunderous applause echoed from every corner of the music hall. He couldn't stop tears from flowing down his face as he had finally fulfilled his lifelong wish. It turned out that his student had adjusted the acoustic control in the control room of the music hall so that recorded applause could be heard with the best effect on stage.

I thought about the story often since I heard that the Chinese Consulate in New York had hired three thousand people to "welcome" Hu, the Chinese President, when he visits New York in September. The consulate officials were afraid that not enough people would turn out to welcome Hu spontaneously. They also intended to use the "welcome party" to block protesting groups from being seen by Hu and other Chinese officials who were accompanying Hu on the trip.

There are many similarities between the action of the Chinese Consulate and the elderly gentleman's student. Three things would happen if the story about the elderly gentleman got out.

(1) If the older gentleman realized that everyone has heard about him crying on the stage upon hearing recorded applause, it would be very hard for him to face others.

(2) If his family members heard the story and went to him to find out whether the story was true or not, he would either walk away in embarrassment or try not to answer the question directly in embarrassment.

(3) If words got out, the student would also try to find any place to hide his face.

Similarly, once those people in the "welcoming party" realized that the rest of the world had found out that they were each paid tens of dollars to "welcome" the Chinese officials, they would be embarrassed. Of course, the ones who were embarrassed the most were the ones being "welcomed."

In the western society, when high-ranking officials are in public, they certainly enjoy having their supporters there. But they also face groups who oppose them, and they deal with protesters with humor and grace, instead of making scenes. They have their dignity intact as the ones who are there to welcome them are there out of their own free will and the ones who are there to represent viewpoints different from them are there out of their own free will as well.

When will the Chinese people get to preserve their dignity? After all, we are also supposed to be dignified human beings.

Translated from:

Add new comment