CNN Reports: In China, White People Can be “Rented” — Solution to US Unemployment?


Where do I sign up for this gig? It seems like it fits my skill set:

For a day, a weekend, a week, up to even a month or two, Chinese companies are willing to pay high prices for fair-faced foreigners to join them as fake employees or business partners.

Some call it “White Guy Window Dressing.” To others, it’s known as the “White Guy in a Tie” events, “The Token White Guy Gig,” or, simply, a “Face Job.”

And it is, essentially, all about the age-old Chinese concept of face. To have a few foreigners hanging around means a company has prestige, money and the increasingly crucial connections — real or not — to businesses abroad.

One way airfare from JFK to Beijing is about $800. Which is an investment, the way I look at it, in a wonderful new career in the exciting field of Not Being Chinese.

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    I’m glad you mentioned this story. You have the same tongue in cheek tone adopted by NPR’s Marketplace and I get it — it’s a cute story at one level. But what struck me — especially coming from Marketplace which is the first to jump on the anti-business bandwagon — is that NO ONE has pointed out the terrible ethics of this practice.

    In the NPR story they interviewed the author of an article about the practice who played this role and he made it very clear that his one-day stint was on a day when investors were in town. And that he was given the title “Quality Control Expert.”

    The media is so ready to cluck its tongue at US businesses and graduates of business schools, Wall Street, etc. at the shocking absence of business ethics and then turns right around to have a good titter in this case. It would be inappropriate and unfair to generalize about Chinese businesses, but it would be refreshing to read a least a smattering of critical inquiry from the mainstream business press into the state of Chinese business practices.

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  2. Profile Photo Contributor

    Awww, I was having a good laugh and then I read your comment, Trace. I guess you are correct, my friend, in one sense. There’s some funny business going on. However, who’s the (innocent) victim here? The victim (potential client) is sort of asking for it, right, if he or she is genuinely impressed by the presence of a white male? Sorry, white males.

    Another point: No surprise there’s no “Token White Female” jobs available in Chinese offices, is there?

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  3. Profile Photo Inactive

    Thank goodness, Rob. The New York Times had me a bit deflated with this morning’s “Triumphant Decline of the WASP” story.

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  4. Profile Photo Inactive

    Airfare?!? Wasn’t your most recent trip to China on a container ship?

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  5. Profile Photo Editor
    Trace Urdan: ….it would be refreshing to read a least a smattering of critical inquiry from the mainstream business press into the state of Chinese business practices. ยท Jun 29 at 3:19pm

    I’d like to read that, too. But in a list of things to worry about — which would include government debt, rotten public schools, higher taxes, more seasons of American Idol — I’d put my concern about corrupt business practices in China way, way, way down, past “why does my knee sometimes make noise?”

    And why is it so awful all of a sudden for people to dress up in suits and pretend to know something they don’t, to be good at something they aren’t? Isn’t that the definition of a Harvard MBA?

    I mean, some Harvard MBAs, Trace. Present company, etc. etc.

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  6. Profile Photo Contributor

    Hey! I hadn’t read to the end of the article. They do hire women. To pose as oil tycoons! I could do that. My kids love “brass bands” and “sumptuous dinners.” Not sure what they’d make of the Russian models on the plane, but, hey, I could ask ’em about spy tactics and such. Fun!

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  7. Profile Photo Editor

    I buy Ursula as a “Quality Control Expert.”

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  8. Profile Photo Member

    Mine was really a reaction to Marketplace which is so smug all the time and should really be called Marketfailureplace. It is anti-capitalist propaganda masquerading as a business program and though it makes me yell at my poor radio, I keep tuning in — definition of insanity.

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  9. Profile Photo Member

    I am a free-market capitalist and traditionalist- caveat emptor. The other party needs to do its homework- if they are suckered by this kind of nonsense, they deserve what they are getting.

    Note that these kinds of practices only apply for the rub-shoulders fluffy networking nonsense that characterizes artificial non-substantive businesses and government corporatism/influence-peddling.

    When an entity has a real product to offer, actual quality, marketable technology, value prices, etc., they sell something real rather than empty images.

    I’m still remembering the time a stuffed-shirt venture capitalist used as his excuse to our founder, for not investing, the fact that I was “too folksy” when explaining the technology. We later licensed it to a major company for seven figures despite my speeches; maybe it would have been eight figures if we had hired the pompous VC to be our front man? (BTW, he is now a major health care company CEO trading in corporatism with the Obamacare gang)

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  10. Profile Photo Member

    I really appreciate you bringing this to our attention. This may open a great new career field for me inasmuch as I am very versatile. I could easily be Not Chinese. But it would not be a great creative stretch for me to be Not Russian or Not Zimbabwean or Not Paraguayan. In fact, name your Uncountry. I can be anything except Not American.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Editor

    Wait, what? Duane? You were “too folksy?” Wow. I’ve been reading your comments here (and on the Facebook page) for months and I’ve gotta say, you don’t come off as “folksy,” if by that the VC meant kinda “aw shucks” and “goll-lee.”

    VCs, in my experience, often fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re asking for money and because they control the money that they’re smarter than you. Forgetting, for a moment, that it’s not their money, it’s their Limited Partner’s; and that if they were so smart, they’d be inventing new stuff too, and building a company of their own.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Editor

    I hear you, Trace. Although I have to say, in simpering and toady-ish tones, that I enjoy Marketplace. Especially when I’m on it.

    Which makes me think that there’s maybe a business to be made in a daily business podcast that doesn’t instinctively treat the free-market system as some kind of infectious disease? I mean, I don’t listen to Marketplace on the radio; I listen to the podcast version. I wonder if a lot of other people do, too. Maybe podcasts are leveling the playing field.

    Oh, and Tom? Get in line behind me.

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  13. Profile Photo Member

    Come to think of it, when I missed the spittoon while changing slides…..

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  14. Profile Photo Inactive

    I’ve got a better job for white men. Wedding minister in Japan:

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  15. Profile Photo Member

    I’m not going to let this go even if I’m just talking to myself…

    Featured Marketplace story today: A theater troupe of day laborers for day laborers, Teatro Jornalero, performs educational plays about labor and immigration laws, mixed in with the challenges day laborers face.

    What business story could possibly be more important than that? It’s not quite fiddling while Rome burns, but it may be the business journalist’s equivalent. And hey, guess what, Obama is giving a big immigration speech tomorrow? Coincidence? Hmm… Glenn Beck might not think so.

    • #15

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