JOB SEARCH / OCT. 25, 2015
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Avoid These 5 Totally Bizarre Jobs in China

China’s President Xi Jinping recently arrived in the UK for a state visit. The president will be meeting the great and the good in the UK, along with all the usual trimmings, pomp and pageantry. On the agenda will be human rights abuses and jobs and, according to a Downing Street spokesperson, nothing is “off the table”.

If nothing is off the table, democracy and surveillance should be good conversation topics. Below are 5 ludicrous jobs that fall under the democracy and surveillance umbrella that David Cameron would do well to highlight over afternoon tea with President Xi Jinping. They’re all ‘government jobs’, but if you fail at them it’s not just your bonus that will go, trust me. You’ll be up the Yangtze River without a paddle. There are plenty of other options if you’re seriously considering employment in China, but let’s just say you should stay away from these ones.

See Also: How to find a job in China

1. Paid Internet Troll

If your internet trolling career is still in the embryonic, nascent stages, you could take it up a level and apply for one of these jobs. The only real stumbling block is that you’ll have to post your missives in Chinese, but with the myriad of language courses on offer these days, that shouldn’t be a problem.

These ‘online commentators’ are also known as members of the 50 Cent Army. The Army comprises many hundred thousands of internet commenters who are paid to say nice things about the Communist Party of China on blogs, articles, message boards and forums, all with the aim of influencing public opinion on policy matters. (Guess why they’re called “50 Cent Army”? Answers in the comments box please.) It’s more exciting than just posting positive comments, though – you also get to do tons of trolling. Find an article that’s critical of the Chinese government and troll away, but do so by planting scripts from your government handbook.

The New Statesman’s Ai Weiwei published part of a transcript of an interview with one of the 50-Cent Army, in which it was revealed that these paid trolls use countless usernames to spread their propaganda. They receive detailed instructions from their supervisors, for example, instructions to show them how to “guide the netizens’ thoughts – manipulation comes to mind here. Clearly the job requires some skill: the New Statesman’s article writes that these paid trolls are required to “create illusions” to attract the attention of their innocent, web-surfing targets, guiding them “obliquely” so they change their minds without even realising it. Spooky.

2. Pornography Identification Officer

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The West has its own way of dealing with the scourge of online pornography; China, as we in the West would expect, has its own unique approach: it employs porn judges to pore over pornographic content usually seized from hawkers or sex offenders. The Washington Post reports  that these pornography ‘censors’ are “forced” to watch up to 700 porn films a week, with each film being watched in its entirety (because often the worst bits are towards the end). In China, although pornography and porn- related commerce is illegal, hawkers abound. Punishment for contravening anti-pornography laws is typically brutal, described by some human rights organisations as “repressive”. Porn judges monitor policy through their “examination” of pornography DVDs; the DVDs are given a rating by the judges based on the level of obscenity. Films that are deemed obscene are subject to a “scrubbing”, according to Beijing Today, in order to return to a “safe and clean state”.

Pornography Identification Officers are typically elderly, must be married (yes, you read that right) and are employed by the Security Union (private porn judge) or as volunteers with the Beijing Internet Association. It’s clearly not a job for everyone, and not just because of the mind-numbing, brain stultifying porn content: porn judges can be called upon at any time of day or night and their evaluations can ruin a person’s life. According to Beijing Today, the salary for a porn judge can be up to $32,000.

3. Network Public Opinion Analyst

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China’s network public opinion analysts are paid to monitor public opinion online. According to a Beijing News Article, there were around two million such analysts employed by the Communist Party’s propaganda department, portals and offices.

Analysts are paid to perform tasks such as forbidden/blacklisted keywords searches (keywords the government doesn’t want its people to see, which range from political terms to social ones) and sift through posts on social media and microblogging sites to find content that may be critical of the government or which points to social unrest. If a website or server is flagged as containing any blacklisted terms, the site owner will be required to remove the keywords or face the consequence of his server being shut down. Analysts use sophisticated software to take the temperature of online content; once a specific temperature has been reached, for example, a score of 40 out of 100, the system will then flag this and send an alert to appropriate officials.

It would seem that the primary aim of this role is to facilitate the creation of a virtual Nirvana where there is no deviation in thought, word or deed. A world where the prevailing political orthodoxy is accepted by all, and the outside world can enviously marvel at. Although on the surface it’s effective (only last year some poor chap was arrested for “inciting protests”), it’s also futile because, to coin a phrase albeit a simplistic one, where there’s a will there’s a way. Ban words and people will simply invent new ones. Or technologically savvy users will use or invent other means of communication.

4. Paid Protesters

If you were thinking that paid protesters are just another means of stifling democracy, you’d be right. Paid protesters do exactly what it says on the tin: they get paid to protest. Or to ‘anti-protest’ if you like.

According to a BBC report, protesters hired to ‘anti-protest’ at a pro-democracy rally last year were paid around HK $800 for their service to the government (i.e. turning up).

5. Escort for Dissenters

The idea of an all-expenses-paid trip to striking, lavish destinations sounds good, especially when it’s the government that’s footing the bill. But an all-expenses- paid trip to the imperious peaks, cascading waterfalls and scenic backdrop of the Tiantai Mountains chaperoned by a member of the Chinese police somewhat takes the edge off what would otherwise be classified by we Brits as a ‘jolly’.

The Guardian reports that chaperones, usually officials from China’s ministry of state security, must be sufficiently ranked to accompany dissenters, and enjoy seemingly unlimited food and drink. In essence, this practice is a form of illegal detention, disguised as a holiday. Dissenters cannot refuse to go on the ‘holiday’, and only the most persistent dissenters are given this ‘punishment’. Low-level protesters face a different consequence: they are put in makeshift prisons where they are often beaten prior to being sent back to their homes.

See Also: Why Move to China for Employment?

Perhaps your job doesn’t seem so bad after all. Perhaps, like me, you take for granted the freedom you have to protest, have your own thoughts and surf the net as you wish.

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