White Dudes Are Still Valuable in China


You may have heard that men — particularly white men of a certain age — had a difficult time of it during the recent recession. "Older men cut loose from employment at the peak of their earning power and work experience," USA Today gravely announced last year, have become "the unusual new faces of joblessness." But over in China, there's a a new demand for exactly those kinds of faces.

Beijing-based freelancer Mitch Moxley writes of a weird trend sweeping the country, in which Chinese companies have taken to hiring white foreign men to pose as their CEOs and top executives in order to give the impression their company has ties with the West. A stint as a "fake executive" can be lucrative, writes Moxley, who was recently hired, along with five other expatriates, to pose as a "quality control expert" for what was allegedly a California-based company that had built a facility in the suburb of Dongying. His friend Ernie, the eldest, played the part of the company's CEO.

We stood in the front row wearing suits, safety vests, and hard hats. As we waited for the ceremony to begin, a foreman standing beside me barked at workers still visible on the construction site. They scurried behind the scaffolding.

“Are you the boss?” I asked him.

He looked at me quizzically. “You’re the boss.”

Actually, Ernie was the boss. After a brief introduction, “Director” Ernie delivered his speech before the hundred or so people in attendance. He boasted about the company’s long list of international clients and emphasized how happy we were to be working on such an important project. When the speech was over, confetti blasted over the stage, fireworks popped above the dusty field beside us, and Ernie posed for a photo with the mayor.

For that, they each got paid $1,000. Which is not entirely unlike being a real American executive, when you think about it.

Rent a White Guy [Atlantic via CNBC]