China’s ‘rent-a-Caucasian’ industry is alive and well

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

There are lots of ways for entrepreneurs to make money in China. But Caucasians have a special advantage: the color of their skin.

For example, there’s 25-year-old “Katie” (it’s not her real name), an American with her own little small business. Her client is a Chinese firm that contracts with her to accompany the firm’s director to dinner with clients every week. Why? She’s Caucasian.

“There’s no harm in it,” says “Katie” to the New Straits Times. “I’ve never felt uncomfortable or nervous or unsafe in attending any of these dinners. It’s always worked out for me.”

There’s nothing sordid involved. It’s just that businessmen in China favor bringing foreigners to social events, especially Westerns with white skin. It helps them portray an international image or add something “exotic” to the conversation. According to the New Straits Times report, “many Chinese equate Caucasian faces with business success and a global outlook.”

Asian countries have long had an affinity for Westerners in their advertising. Hollywood stars from Taylor Swift to Madonna have been paid handsomely to appear in ads there.  Now, there’s a growing demand for Caucasian musicians, athletes, architects, lawyers and other professionals to portray an image of international success.

Not all Caucasians living in China are thrilled with their com,atriots who rent themselves out. “It’s an industry built on a platform of dishonesty and deceit.” said Canadian John Lombard, who has been based in China for more than two decades, told the Malaysian news outlet.

The ongoing debates makes little difference for “Katie,” who has a full-time job in Beijing. That’s because the side-gig helps pay the bills. She gets 1,000 yuan ($145) for a fun night out. Just for being Caucasian

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