Published On: Wed, Apr 29th, 2015

Rent-A-Foreigner Is A New Top Business In China


These men were recruited by a Chinese firm to pretend to be British guards.

The country with the biggest population and constant economy growth, China, finds their citizens unfit to do some jobs and represent them at their best, so they have found a new way of “improving” their work. One of the fastest growing businesses at the moment are agencies that “rent” foreign people to pose as their clients, usually for real estate agents.

Chinese business owners don’t find their own people classy enough so they often decide to pay foreigners who act like they are their clients or partners to improve their sales. There is a lot of luxury properties in rural parts of China and even more are being built right now so candidates are picked to pretend they are living there. Sometimes they are hired to act out the role of a recognizable international symbol, like a British guard for instance.

A New York Times’s documentary released recently depicts jobs, roles and people fulfilling them for Chinese business owners. Authors of the film traveled across rural China and “ghost towns” to see this themselves. Most of the events and places they visited were organized by real estate agencies.

Property development in China is on the rise so companies in this line of work will do anything to beat their competition. One of the problems Chinese realtors have are oversized properties in remote places in China, the solution – “make them international”, said one of the agents working in Chongqing.

Agencies offer various kinds of people to pose as clients. Depending on their background and skin color they are picked and valued for different positions.

White actors are more expensive because Chinese people consider them classier, but they offer black actors as well, recommending them as “a very open personality, yet are quite cheap.”

The question is who’s to blame for Chinese people seeing themselves as unattractive? Real estate agents or buyers? As one of the agents said, it is sometimes impossible to sell luxury apartments, even in a good location to prospective buyers if it is not represented as international.

The widespread opinion in China is that if you have foreign guests at an event or in one of your buildings as a resident the entire thing is elevated to another level. “As long as there is a good image, people will be willing to buy,” added one of the realtors working in the outskirts of China.

After actors sign their contract with a firm they are assigned new identities they have to fulfill. To be a star of an international actor you don’t need to be highly educated, it’s enough to show your non-Asian face and to be capable to follow your new life story.

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