Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Renting Whites in China

(CNN) -- In China, white people can be rented.

For a day, a weekend, a week, up to even a month or two, Chinese companies are willing to pay high prices for fair-faced foreigners to join them as fake employees or business partners...

And it is, essentially, all about the age-old Chinese concept of face. To have a few foreigners hanging around means a company has prestige, money and the increasingly crucial connections -- real or not -- to businesses abroad.

"Face, we say in China, is more important than life itself," said Zhang Haihua, author of "Think Like Chinese." "Because Western countries are so developed, people think they are more well off, so people think that if a company can hire foreigners, it must have a lot of money and have very important connections overseas. So when they really want to impress someone, they may roll out a foreigner."(1)

Most of Asia definitely has a love affair with whiteness and fair skin. One non-verbal way to distinguish an Asian-American woman from an Asian-born women is that Asian-born women (with money) typically lighten their skin with various types of products. Asian-American women are darker and just leave their skin tone natural. (Or as the proverbial Asian-born grandma might say "Too Dark".)

Discrimination by skin color is mostly an open fact of life in Asia, most definitely extending to opportunity and employment. This is in contrast to discrimination in the West, which exists, but which is more strongly dealt with through legislation and litigation. If the large peasant and working classes of Asia continue to see their incomes rise, and confidence gain, these and other rather backward social customs will face challenge. Strikes in China , turmoil in Thailand - these are probably just very small tips of a larger iceberg of political movement that will occur in the region over the next generation. And if developing Asia is too replace the U.S. as the consumer of last resort, it will need to occur. Economic gains must be equaled by political and social gains eventually. Capitalism and Freedom - though it should be underlined that this freedom broadens only outside the realm of control of capital and the means of production.

1'Chinese companies 'rent' white foreigners' - CNN

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