A new trend is taking place in China that involves Chinese businessmen “renting” white actors in order to appear attractive to other businesses.
The practice emerges from the Chinese concept of “face”, also known as a positive public image.
This allows Chinese businessmen to boost their image and show that they hold international appeal within the business world.
Businesses that hold an international appeal are seen as attractive to investors and boost credibility. The firms hire the actors on an hourly, weekly or monthly rate.
Once the white “actors” accept the job, they may require them to sit in on meeting (and pretend to understand as little Chinese as possible) or attend an event. The language barrier makes it easier for them to avoid discussing details that might blow their cover.
The practice extends to white females as well, where they can pose as employees, business partners or girlfriends.
Jonathan Zatkin, an American actor was paid $300 to fly to the grand opening of a jewelry store, and make a short speech where he claimed how “wonderful it was to work with the country for 10 years.” The individuals who get the gigs are not always actors.
Some are English teachers, or other foreigners in China looking to make an extra income. A number of times actors are asked to act as if they don’t speak English as they accompany Chinese businessmen.
This is also big business not only for the actors, but the agencies that hire them. One company Rent A Laowai (translation: rent a foreigner) posts classified ads looking for actors to pose as businessmen.
The positions do have there risks, one actor was involved in a company that swindeled millions of yens out of clients-he was in hot water when they pointed him out as the culprit. Chinese employment experts believe that this practice will be a passing fad, but in the meantime white foreigners in China are still in demand.