Becoming A Fake Businessman In China

The Atlantic reports on the practice of paying foreigners to pose as company experts.

This week, The Atlantic had an article by a man who wrote about his experiences as a fake businessman in China. Apparently, Chinese companies are temporarily hiring white men to pose as businessmen in China to give their companies a (global) face. And it turns out that this temporary arrangement is quite lucrative for the ‘businessmen’ who just need to show their faces during ceremonies, without needing to do much work.

From the Atlantic:

And so I became a fake businessman in China, an often lucrative gig for underworked expatriates here. One friend, an American who works in film, was paid to represent a Canadian company and give a speech espousing a low-carbon future. Another was flown to Shanghai to act as a seasonal-gifts buyer. Recruiting fake businessmen is one way to create the image—particularly, the image of connection—that Chinese companies crave. My Chinese-language tutor, at first aghast about how much we were getting paid, put it this way: “Having foreigners in nice suits gives the company face.”

Our responsibilities would include making daily trips to the construction site, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and hobnobbing. During the ceremony, one of us would have to give a speech as the company’s director.

The Atlantic: “Rent a White Guy”

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