Laowai is the Chinese word for a foreigner. "Lao" is a respectful prefix, "wai" means "external, foreign". And large Chinese companies are happy to hire light-skinned Laowai, offering them jobs ... face.
It turns out that the practice of attracting residents of other countries to promote companies is widespread in the PRC. It is believed that if a firm has international connections, it cannot fail to flourish.
In this country, a good mine is more important than a good game. Therefore, when Chinese businessmen want to impress their partners, they show foreigners working for them. The Chinese think that if a company can afford to hire Europeans, it means that it is fine with money and connections in the international market.
Most of the foreigners exposed to the public don't actually work for Chinese companies - they're just ... rented.
For example, the American actor Jonathan Zatkin, who lives in Beijing, once played the role of vice president of an Italian jewelry company. Jonathan received $ 300 for flying to one of the provincial Chinese towns and giving a speech at the opening ceremony of a jewelry store.
Zatkin later said: "I stood on the stage next to the mayor of the city and said how great it is that we have been cooperating with this wonderful Chinese company for ten years now ..."
There are few requirements for candidates for Laovai: firstly, you need to be a foreigner, preferably with a white skin color, and secondly, you need to be a sociable person. In the overwhelming majority of cases, such announcements are made by recently opened companies, whose management is confident that having a company as an employee, as well as a client or partner will add weight to the business in the domestic market.
This is how European faces appear at Chinese business meetings, dinners and conferences. Many firms are engaged in hiring dummy "foreigners". One of them is called “Rent A Laowai” (Rent a Foreigner).
Such work is paid quite low. You can earn about $ 30-50 per day, to find out the amount that the agency receives, add a zero to the specified amount. However, there is almost nothing to do either, except to smile, shake hands and make notes with a clever look in a notebook.