Fake mourners, stand-in significant others and granny police are just some of the unique and weird jobs you’ll find in China – here are 7 professions that you didn’t know existed.
The unemployment rate in China stood at 4% by the end of 2019. That is an impressive statistic for a country with a population of over 1.3 billion people. But how has the country with the world’s largest population managed to keep the numbers this low?
Well, China creates jobs that may seem superfluous to the western world. Don’t get this wrong: there are millions of Chinese doctors, teachers, police officers, and other recognisable professions well-known to the western world. But, there are also a huge number of jobs in China that are just plain odd.
One example of this is ‘face jobs’. Born out of the belief that having a foreign face connected to your business somehow legitimises it, many Chinese companies specially create positions for foreigners – positions that often come with sizeable compensations, and almost no responsibilities.
Another reason behind China’s profusion of unique and weird jobs is the fact that Chinese culture is centred around strong family ties, so sometimes employers create additional positions just to accommodate a jobless family member or a family friend. Without further ado, here are the 7 professions in China that you didn’t know existed.
Think of them as the morality cops of China or the custodians of Chinese culture! Granny police don’t work like the regular police. They don’t hunt down the bad guys or carry guns or even wear uniforms. They’re there to ensure that people in their neighbourhoods stay on the right side of the line, both morally and culturally.
Granny police make sure that the young respect the elders, that couples aren’t having too many children (before 2016, most Chinese families were bound by the nation-wide One Child Policy), and everyone is where they are required to be, doing what society wants them to be doing. Employing both men and women, granny police are a firm reminder that the government is always watching.
As Chinese companies strive to create a diverse brand image for the cameras, more and more white males are getting fake executive jobs in China – a lucrative source of income for ex-pats living there today, albeit quite an unusual and weird job. Being a fake executive means that you are essentially masquerading as a businessman, spending your days doing nothing except wearing suits and attending meetings, dinners, and public functions.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be a fake corporate executive if you are a Caucasian expatriate in China. You can start a business in China or partner with a Chinese company to become a real executive. Carrying out a China company registration is pretty straightforward nowadays – there aren’t too many barriers to entry for American and European investors. However, if you don’t have a sufficient understanding of the Chinese company registration systems (or Mandarin for that matter), you will likely need a Chinese PEO (professional employer organisation) to help you through the process.
Fake Significant Others
Given that Chinese culture is built around strong family ties, it appears pretty odd for a young adult to attend the Spring Festival (or any other holiday) in her/his hometown without a significant other. Young women, in particular, are always under immense pressure to get married as early as possible, so career women often consider hiring a stand-in boyfriend for gatherings to save ‘face’.
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Bureaucracy can sometimes be exhausting, especially when the system does not work properly and people simply don’t have time to wait. That’s how the role of a professional queuer emerged. People in China are now hiring professional queuers to wait in line for them at banks or healthcare centres, at Apple stores, train stations, designer stores… the list goes on.
Some businesses (restaurants in particular) even hire professional queuers to stand in line for several hours, in a bid to get people talking on social media and attract more customers.
Fake mourners are professionals who are hired to cry at someone else’s funeral in order to create the impression that the late person was popular and well-loved. This tradition in China has gained some media traction, especially considering relatives are sometimes unable to attend the funeral. Families have been known to hire out actors to cry, lament and weep in a public performance of grief for around EUR 350 (USD 400).
China exports billions of tons of fertiliser made from human waste. In fact, Bloomberg has even termed processed faecal matter ‘black gold‘ – a testament to its commercial value. One of the oldest professions in the country, poop collectors serve an important role in certain urban and rural areas where a growing income gap has led to unequal access to modern sanitation.
Human Punching Bags
Some people, when pissed off, like to release that stress and tension by punching things – and in China, there are a couple of people who make serious money off of this demand. Known as human punching bags, these individuals can make up to RMB 20,000 (USD 2,832.50) a month on this job. Not bad, if you can handle a few dozen punches to your gut every day.
As odd as these jobs are, they pay well and keep people employed and out of crime. Other weird jobs that didn’t quite make the list include paid bridesmaids, hotel test sleepers, ‘gold farmers’ (gamers who play solely to attain in-game currency to sell to other players), spit monitors, and children playmates. One thing’s for sure, China will continue to dominate the job market as the second-largest economy in the world, odd jobs and all.
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