When Chinese Chairman Hu Jintao came to Washington, his reception had been planned with great care—not only by the White House, but the Chinese Embassy too.
The embassy put the word out to its network of front groups to mobilize: thousands of students and others would descend on the capital, their transportation and food would be covered, and they would be paid between $20 and $80.
The Epoch Times reported the story on Jan. 18 based on a survey of e-mails and electronic notices, along with two clandestine telephone conversations with leaders of Chinese Student and Scholar Associations (CSSA).
They admitted to Epoch Times reporters posing as students that the Chinese Embassy was behind all the arrangements—a fact that is deliberately obscured in public communications, in an attempt to make the scene appear organic and natural. The Epoch Times was forced to use this approach to obtain truthful information.
Now The Epoch Times has obtained photographic evidence that the Chinese Embassy paid students to wave flags and chant slogans. The photographs were given by Tibetan activists who had seen the exchange of money and taken a few surreptitious snaps. They then printed the photos out and held them up, chanting to the Chinese students "Shame! You were paid!"
A man who works as a dishwasher in Philadelphia said he was recruited by a community group to come to welcome Hu, so he didn't have to work that day and was paid $55.
While such welcoming activities are often seen as a simple expression of nationalistic sentiment, there is frequently an element of coercion in the exchange. An IT student from Philadelphia told an Epoch Times reporter that he was paid $55 to come, and that he came because he didn't want any trouble from the embassy. He was concerned that if he didn't sign up, there might be consequences for his family in China.
Putting on successful welcoming activities is seen as an important political task by bureaucrats in Chinese embassies around the world. They serve the dual purpose of attempting to give a good impression of local Chinese support to the communist leadership, and overshadowing human rights protesters like Tibetans, Uyghurs, Falun Gong practitioners, and others.
When the crowd dispersed on Jan. 20, a few students in the welcoming group went to the Falun Gong group and said they were paid $50 to come but that they support Falun Gong, as told to an Epoch Times reporter.