- By Isaac Stone Fish
Isaac Stone Fish is associate editor at Foreign Policy. Previously a Beijing correspondent for Newsweek, he wrote stories on such subjects as the Dalai Lama’s effect on international trade, China’s love affair with rogue states, and crystal meth in North Korea. His articles have also appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the Economist, and the Los Angeles Times.
File this in the category of ‘they do things differently in China.’ For those curious about the Chinese "Rent a White Guy" phenomenon, whereby a Chinese company will employ a foreigner part-time to sit near the front of an office or to join in on meetings because it apparently adds a level of sophistication, here’s how they get hired. I received this yesterday from a contact in Beijing, who agreed to it being posted; the letter is unedited in any way except for the deletions of some identifying information. Try to count how many American anti-discrimination laws this ad violates.
I hope all is going well with you. The reason I’m contacting you is because today I had a meeting with a contact of mine (deleted) who asked me for some assistance in finding people for some part-time work in Beijing. Essentially they are in the business of (deleted.) They are looking for some Americans to act as assistants in meetings with potential investors, and essentially act as the "white face" to give some more credibility to the project. He said it would need assistance for about 3-4 meetings per month, maybe more, maybe less – it all depends on how the business goes. Of course this will be a paid job, but I have not discussed any payment amount or payment terms so you would have to negotiate that yourself.
The first requirement of the job is that you must be an advanced Mandarin Chinese speaker, since the meetings will all be with Chinese people. Also men only, no females. The other requirement is that you must have some sort of background that Chinese people typically value. My contact is (deleted) and is slightly obsessed with Jewish people and thinks they are the smartest, so he naturally prefers this person to be Jewish. If he can’t get someone Jewish, he would also like someone who went to a famous university — Harvard, Yale, etc. Besides those 2 qualifications, I’m sure he’d be happy with someone who has some sort of connection to someone famous or important, or maybe someone who is really tall and handsome. Basically any characteristic that Chinese people are impressed by – he is looking for in this person. Of course it wouldn’t hurt if this person was good-looking, well-dressed, etc. – I think you can get it. (deleted).
Despite reports of increased xenophobia in China, it’s nice to know there’s still a part-time job available in Beijing for a tall, white, male, Jewish, Harvard-educated fluent Mandarin speaker.