the power of a white guy in a tie

Hey, white people! How about a prestigious, well-paying job overseas in, um, industrial something or other? All you have to do is be Caucasian and wear a suit. This article in The Atlantic is kind of infuriating, mainly because it's probably true: Rent a White Guy.
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."
How do Chinese companies show that they're legit? Hire a foreigner, of course! Any foreigner in a necktie will do. Qualifications? Ha. They don't even have to do anything but shake a few hands and give a speech or two. Ah, 21st century White Privilege at its finest.

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