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Corporations Seek White Faces: Unique Employment Opportunities in China

Posted Jul 07 2010 5:16am

If we sell something that is perfectly legal to give away and sex is not involved, is it still prostitution? That is the question I asked myself as I read an article on CNN’s Web site (see link below) that discussed some of the more questionable business practices taking place in China. Apparently, if you are Caucasian and willing to go to China, you can get a job standing around being, well, Caucasian. Chinese businesses are willing to pay fair-faced men and women to pretend to be foreign clients, business partners, oil tycoons and girlfriends, in their campaign to look more successful. To bolster “face.”

If one is well versed in the relevant literature, this story may come as little shock. Previous studies have addressed similar issues in China related to “westernization.” For example, Lindridge and Wang (2008) conducted a study of young women in Shanghai who report significant pressure from family to seek plastic surgery to reflect the “new China:” a mix of old world hierarchies, western style, success and “perfection.” In comparison to plastic surgery, spinning lies about western connection by having John Smith walk around your business party looking Caucasian doesn’t seem all that bad, does it.

Personally, I have no problem with men and women making an easy buck in this manner, or most manners for that matter. My only problem with the whole things is that these jobs are not open to a diverse pool of potential applicants, especially when our own country is going through a difficult recession. I think that African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and alike should have the same opportunities to sell themselves to Chinese business as Caucasian. It is just too bad that such an enterprise would never work here.

Chinese companies ‘rent’ white foreigners

Lindridge, A. M., & Wang, C. (2008). Saving “face” in China: modernization, parental pressure, and plastic surgery. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 7(6), 496-508.

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