Not a good time to be a laowai, unless you’re Jewish

24 May

star of davidForeigners are having a bit of a tough time of it in that there China at the moment. Thank goodness Death Noodle is insulated from the madness in Hong Kong.

First the government expelled poor old Melissa Chan and shut down Al Jazeera’s Beijing operations, then announced a crack down on illegal foreign nationals living and/or working in the People’s Republic, then there was the highly entertaining but insane xenophobic ramblings of supposedly respected CCTV presenter Yang Rui.

If you haven’t heard all about Yang’s moment of madness then I direct you to Shanghaiist, suffice to say he apparently called Chan a ‘bitch’ and called on the terrifying Public Security Bureau to “clean out the foreign trash” in a weibo post that would probably have had him arrested for inciting racial hatred … if this wasn’t China.

As it is, the cumulative effect of all of this anti-foreigner sentiment is to galvanise the Party’s authority once again by ploughing a tried and tested route. That is, cracking down on illegals who “come over here, take our jobs, bed our women” whilst tapping into the narrative of Chinese history which portrays the years since the Communist revolution in 1949 as payback time after centuries of foreign misrule and subjugation.

Unfortunately, there are enough foreign tools knocking about in China that have made the government’s job very easy. Witness the British man who was pummelled after apparently trying to assault a Chinese girl on a Beijing street, or the (now sacked) Russian cellist who called a local lass a “silly cunt” after kicking the back of her train seat. You can read about them all here.

Why now though? There have always been foreign dicks in China. Well, funnily enough, before all of this anti laowai nonsense started clogging up social media, you may remember the Party was having a bit of a torrid time of it.

First there was the highly embarrassing Bo Xilai scandal and all the coup rumours that accompanied it (still to be full resolved) and then the even more emasculating Chen Guangcheng saga (which again is rolling on, thanks to the treatment meted out to his relatives and supporters).

With all the subtlety of a Mandelson/Campbell one-two, the Party is deflecting attention for its shortcomings on to a few ignorant foreigners. It’s PR 101 really, and unfortunately it appears to be working pretty well inside China, where, of course, only one side of any story is told.

Now, for those who thought xenophobia was all doom and gloom, comes this wonderful tale from Foreign Policy, which perfectly exposes the hilarious side of endemic racism.

Apparently in China, there is a phenomenon whereby Chinese companies hire white western men part-time in order to sit front of office or join meetings, in order to add an air of international sophistication to proceedings or to play better with potential foreign investors.

This has been taken a wee bit further by the below company, who wrote to the article’s author requesting specifically fluent Mandarin-speaking, Ivy League-educated, Jewish guys. Read and marvel.

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).

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