One of my Chinese colleagues told me that Chinese politicians deliver speeches in a particularly dull, droning manner. They simply stand and read their speech and there is, by design, no effort at oratory. While I can see clear evidence all around me that the Chinese government does want to woo public opinion, it seems that Chinese un-elected officials do not behave as Western politicians would do in the same situation. So, I deduced that I was listening to a government announcement of some sort and I stopped to listen, even though of course I could not understand a word, nor could I read anything on the backdrop set up behind the speakers.
There was a small crowd of about 20 people gathered around and I also spotted some journalists with cameras and video cameras and notebooks. When the first speaker finished, there was a smattering of applause, then another official stepped up and read from his notes. I decided to get a photo so I got my cell phone out. About that time I realized that the journalists who were circling around getting crowd shots, noticed me, and moved in to film me. I was planning to clap politely and move away, when the assistants to the officials noticed the journalists noticing me and flanked me. "Hello, where are you from?" is the typical greeting from those who have a little English.
He was a very affable fellow. He appeared to be the media or PR person for his department and he explained that the event was to announce a new taxation regime.
The last of the speeches ended and the PR man whirled around to help with the next stage of the Announcement. And that would have been a good time to leave, except that just then, the theme music from "The Magnificent Seven" started blaring from the loudspeakers.
I have to tape this, I thought, so I fumbled for my cell phone and caught a few seconds.
Persons from the small crowd were stepping up to the backdrop and writing on it as the journalists filmed them.
The nice PR man returned and handed me a big black felt pen and very politely asked me to write my wishes for the new tax policy on the backdrop.