For Hire In China: Fake White Businessmen

Jakob Boeskov's fake ID Sniper Rifle

Jakob Boeskov's fake ID Sniper Rifle

This story totally reminds me of an essay we included in Russ Kick’s classic anthology Abuse Your Illusions: The Disinformation Guide To Media Mirages And Establishment Lies, “How I Crashed A Chinese Arms Bazaar With A Rifle That Doesn’t Exist,” by Jakob S. Boeskov. For some reason, white guys in China seem to be cloaked in Yes Men-like levels of suspended belief as to their (highly unlikely) cover stories. By Mitch Moxley for the Atlantic:

Not long ago I was offered work as a quality-control expert with an American company in China I’d never heard of. No experience necessary—which was good, because I had none. I’d be paid $1,000 for a week, put up in a fancy hotel, and wined and dined in Dongying, an industrial city in Shandong province I’d also never heard of. The only requirements were a fair complexion and a suit.

“I call these things ‘White Guy in a Tie’ events,” a Canadian friend of a friend named Jake told me during the recruitment pitch he gave me in Beijing, where I live. “Basically, you put on a suit, shake some hands, and make some money. We’ll be in ‘quality control,’ but nobody’s gonna be doing any quality control. You in?”

I was.

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.”

Six of us met at the Beijing airport, where Jake briefed us on the details. We were supposedly representing a California-based company that was building a facility in Dongying. 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. That duty fell to my friend Ernie, who, in his late 30s, was the oldest of our group. His business cards had already been made…

[continues in the Atlantic]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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6 Comments on "For Hire In China: Fake White Businessmen"

  1. How do I apply? I'm tall, white, well built and happen to be a Socialist, the Chinese would love me!

    Seriously, where do I apply?

  2. The Chinese are Communist, dipsh@T

  3. I did not know it was an argument, I thought it was a fact…

  4. I did not know it was an argument, I thought it was a fact…

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