The Foreigner Card

Right now, I’m writing my first real travel article for an international newspaper, China Daily! (to be published). How is this possible, I hear you cry? How did a blogger with only a few followers come to be writing an article for China Daily? Could it be…the foreigner card?

It is very common in China for a foreigner to be chosen to publicise certain events, places, products and TV shows. Common examples would be  Kuaile Hanyu   , a TV show displaying foreigners who can speak Mandarin Chinese, and   If You Are The One  , a dating show with several foreign contestants. 

In China, blonde hair can attract film coverage, company visibility and a multitude of Chinese admirers. I’m saying this from personal experience, but anyone who has lived in China for a while will know it’s true.

In the workplace, the bias can be strong. Those recruiting teachers will often request ‘white Caucasian’, native speaker or not, to hire for summer camps, primary schools and even universities. In some cases, an American or Brit who has never taught a student may win over a  candidate from South Africa (native English speaker) with four years teaching experience, and take responsibility for a barrage of university students.

 In my time in China, I have been interviewed for   Sichuan TV   and invited to watch   A Date With Luyu   in the studio audience just because of my foreign face. Or, more commonly, because of my friend’s foreign face. I’m not blonde.

I am happy to share my experiences of Shanxi Province. China Daily gave me a fantastic opportunity to travel and to develop myself. To get foreigners to write about the trip will definitely boost publicity. Like any card, expat life in China has two sides.

What’s that? I’m not supposed to skip the exhaustingly long queue to buy train tickets? 不好意思,听不懂了! (Sorry, I don’t understand Chinese!).

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