The foreign trade and economic cooperation bureau of Foshan, Guangdong has made the surprise move of hiring four foreigners with one more to come to help attract international investment, compile overseas investment information and liaison with Top 500 companies around the world, reports Shanghai Daily.
That’s right: come to China, work for the government as the government. You’ll already be everything the public envies: young, have the best possible job as a civil servant, and hold a foreign passport.
These “international investment promotion consultants” have attracted a lot of media attention that has proved to be “intimidating” to 22 year-old Abbey Heffer from England, reports China Real Time. Heffer doesn’t enjoy the reaction she receives from people when she tells them her age. “You can see the shock on people’s faces,” when I tell them, she said. “I’d rather people judged us for our unique skills.”
The media attention, unfortunately, hasn’t been about any of the unique abilities of the new recruits, so judging may prove to be elusive. Hired from a selection of 72 applicants, one thing we can ascertain is that speaking Mandarin isn’t necessarily one of their unique skills: here’s a photo of Nicolas Santo, 26 years-old and from Uruguay, sitting at his desk with a posted set of beginner Chinese characters and accompanying pinyin behind him.
Zhou Zhitong, director general of the Foshan Bureau of Commerce, says that the hiring is a demonstration of Foshan’s ability to enact dynamic change. “For the past 35 years, we worked at attracting foreign investors to build factories [in China]. Now China is going through another round of reform, [during which] we should target bringing in foreign talents.”
Described by deputy director Yu Hongping “like a fresh breeze to the bureau,” what does this mean for these new overseas Chinese bureaucrats? What do they hope to change? As Santo told the Shanghai Daily, “It’s a great opportunity for me to know about the country and I want to bring something new and subversive.”
Subversive? From a government bureaucrat? As great as it is to attain the lofty position of a civil servant, these civil servants have not gotten access to the “iron rice bowl” as each are only “temporary workers” signed to a one-year contract that may limit their “subversiveness”.