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White People Are For Rent In China

A totally different kind of white privilege

In America, Caucasian people benefit from a form of privilege that gives them access to jobs, opportunities, and networks that are often off limits to minorities. Well, in provincial China, there’s an entirely different type of white privilege happening. White folks can get jobs where they’re paid to stand around and be white – no professional experience required. Throughout China there are firms that rent out foreign-looking people to attend events and the most expensive people are Caucasian.

Real estate entrepreneurs in China’s rural periphery have the biggest need for rent-a-whites where they’re used to occupy massive apartment complexes with vacancy issues. “[Real estate companies] believe that filling their remote buildings with foreign faces, even for a day, suggests that the area is ‘international,’ a buzzword in provincial areas that often translates to ‘buy,’ ” says David Borstein at The New York Times. The real estate companies will often ask the the rented foreigners to act like famous musicians and models to increase the building’s cache with locals.

Mitch Moxley, a freelance writer who lives in Beijing, was paid $1,000 a month to be a fake businessman just because he’s white. “It was pretty funny. The whole thing was a little bit surreal,” he told NPR. “We were down there and were being paraded around a half-built factory and we had to sit in temporary offices the rest of the day, not really doing anything. We were sleeping at our desks or reading magazines.”

Companies with foreign-looking workers are seen as more successful in China. “Face, we say in China, is more important than life itself,” Zhang Haihua, author of Think Like Chinese, told CNN. “Because Western countries are so developed, people think they are more well off, so people think that if a company can hire foreigners, it must have a lot of money and have very important connections overseas. So when they really want to impress someone, they may roll out a foreigner.”

Not only are there “face” or “white monkey” jobs for those looking to impersonate businessmen, but some white folks can get paid to hang out at parties, model, act, and can even pretend to be emissaries of President Obama. Looking to get paid for being white? According to Echinacities, here’s how to identify “white monkey” job postings in China:

-- Look for poorly-worded job ads in English
-- Look for jobs that focus on looks instead of professional experience
-- If a job ad says “Caucasian only” it’s probably a face job
-- If a job has a height or weight requirement its a face job
-- Avoid assistant jobs at Chinese companies or ESL jobs (for those you’ll actually have to work)

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