The land of fake businessmen

Atlantic’s Mitch Moxley reports on a Chinese business practice: hiring fake businessmen to help craft an image. Part of the job:

As we waited for the ceremony to begin, a foreman standing beside me barked at workers still visible on the construction site. They scurried behind the scaffolding.

“Are you the boss?” I asked him.

He looked at me quizzically. “You’re the boss.”

Actually, Ernie was the boss. After a brief introduction, “Director” Ernie delivered his speech before the hundred or so people in attendance. He boasted about the company’s long list of international clients and emphasized how happy we were to be working on such an important project. When the speech was over, confetti blasted over the stage, fireworks popped above the dusty field beside us, and Ernie posed for a photo with the mayor.

If this is common practice, couldn’t some companies lose face (rather than build their image) when others point out or find out that their businessmen are really fakes?

An odd subtext: the requirements for the job included “a fair complexion and a suit.” The fake businessmen are there to indicate that the Chinese company has connections. A “darker complexion and a suit” doesn’t fit the bill for connections? Perhaps a “darker complexion, a suit, and an American accent”?

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