Shaking Hands with Secretary Hu: Comrade, Good Job

Hujintai in gauangxi A personal diary that records a rare handshake with the Chinese president during his visit to Guangxi Province, and more importantly, the Chinese secret service clean-up prior to Hu’s arrival. The post, after a brief life online, was deleted by the censor. However, more copies showed up in cyberspace after being “harmonized.” Translated by CDT:

After a shower on the first day of the , I received a call from a friend, telling me to be at the postal distribution center of Nanjing City by noon. I rode on my crappy black motorcycle and arrived more than half an hour before noon only to find the whole building lit up with lanterns but in chilly peace. My friend is a boss there, managing the green, postal trucks in and out of the center. He gave me a blue uniform, a badge with my name on it, a bottle of hairstyling gel, and a comb and said, “You will see some big shot.”

At 12pm sharp, quite a few black Santanas with “armed police” license plates drove into the center and a gang of plainclothes cops scanned through every corner of the complex, leaving no rock unturned and even no computer unchecked. Fifteen minutes later, men in black jackets appeared on top of tall buildings around the neighborhood. And a group of technicians in green uniforms stuck devices like land mine detectors all over the cement ground. Then, some young plainclothes cops closed up all the windows, curtains, shades and doors. A little after one o’clock, a cop asked us to clear out all the vehicles in and out of the center. I drove my motorbike away, had a bowl of noodles, and came back afterwards.

More than three hours later, another group of detectors scanned all over the ground again. Then a 50-year-old came in and yelled, “In this big a postal center, how come there are no trucks at all?” Soon a few young guys ran out and drove a few trucks in to the compound. Around four o’clock, I got very impatient waiting, but people around me all said “the emperor is coming.”

We were summoned into a conference room, with a crowd of more than 100. An old man announced on the dais, “for so many years we haven’t been visited by any state leaders, so we must present the highest morale to welcome the inspection of our general secretary.” Then an important-looking young man said, “When Secretary Hu comes, you mustn’t hold out your hands if he doesn’t. If the general secretary comes up to talk to you, you can only say ‘Happy New Year General Secretary, you work so hard General Secretary.’ Do not say one word more than this. Otherwise you will be held responsible for the consequences.” And we were also told to take care of our cell phones and that our hands mustn’t stay in our pockets. “Let our men can see your hands all the time, Otherwise you will be held responsible for the consequences” After his speech, he turned over and said to the postal boss, so and so director, “time to see your team’s morale.”

I soon turned off my cell phone. Four police dogs came in from outside, who sniffed all around the compound and signaled to the security officers that paint buckets and some kerosene bottles should be thrown away. At half past four, I heard them murmuring “position one ready, position two ready, …” and they nodded at one another. Within a minute, dozens of cars drove away from the center. And another group of men dressed in blue replaced them and talked to one another about their operations. From their jackets, the shape of a gun could be seen. Then a boss-like man started calling out names. A matrix of four rows, 30 people a row, were called upon and stayed. Those whose names were not called walked outside to welcome General Secretary Hu at the gate. At 16:50, the boss reiterated the rules of the game, and told us that those who make a mistake will be dead. Soon, the rest of the cars disappeared. And I realized that something was weird: there was not a single sound of firecrackers in town.

Around five o’clock, a round of applause went up in the air, and we joined the clapping. A group of people came inside from the door, and I immediately recognized our “Communist Secretary,” in his gray jacket. He shook hands with every one of us and I quickly remembered what I was supposed to say to him. When he approached me, I was truly nervous and I wanted to ask him: How’s the economy this year? When are the value of mutual funds going to increase? How will you manage the real estate market? How would you handle the Taiwan issue? How do you handle relations with “little Japan“? etc. Suddenly, he was right in front of me. Oh my, I was shaking hands with the most important person in China, the person with significant influence in the whole world. I immediately held out my hands and bent over to almost waist height and said, “Happy New Year General Secretary.” He said, “You worked hard, Happy New Year to you.” (I lived in Beijing for four years and can tell his non-Beijing accent!!!)

Subconsciously, I replied, “Well, not much.” But he just passed me over. Then I realized that I may have said something wrong. Oh my, I said to myself, would I be punished?

Then Hu stood in the middle of the crowd and expressed thanks for our work in fighting the snow disasters. But I said to myself: If he knew that many workers had been cleared out of the compound, how would he feel?

Around 17:48, a man behind him signaled it was time to leave. Without any hesitation, Hu walked away from the door he had entered through. But our applause continued while his fleet drove away.

Luckily, I am still alive, typing away this special journal of my New Year.

February 15, 2008, 12:42 PM
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