China, with its immense population of 1.3 billion people, is a country which has to come up with inventive ways to keep its citizens employed. From doctors, chefs, taxi drivers, and street sweepers, to the more unusual professions like restaurant welcomers, store-front clappers, free ticket sellers, receipt stampers, fake significant others, and porters, China has a range of strange jobs you no longer see in the West. Many of these jobs arose as China transitioned from a traditional family-based culture to a more capitalist economy, with employers creating tailor-made positions for relatives or friends.
Others are a result of China's labour prices rising, meaning employers cut back on payroll in order to increase profits. Automation of certain processes has also led to a decrease in the need for certain human roles. Take restaurant welcomers.
In Western countries, the role of front of house is usually filled by one person who greets customers, takes coats, and guides them to their table. In some larger restaurants in China, however, there are rows of identically-dressed beauties who bow and say “huanying guanying” (welcome) to each customer. Store-front clappers are another unique profession.
In an effort to stand out in congested city centres, shops often blast loud club music and shout their special offers through megaphones. Accompanying the barkers are the clappers, whose job is to clap their hands in unison to draw attention to the store. The role of free ticket sellers is a strange one, too.
Every attraction in China, no matter how small or free, has a team of employees on hand to issue and check tickets. Tourists must wait in line to get a free ticket, which is then validated and checked again. Receipt stampers can be found at department stores and supermarkets, where a bored-looking person lurks by the checkout counter to stamp shoppers' receipts with a red chop as they exit.
This is supposedly an anti-shoplifting measure, but no one ever checks the contents of the shopping bags against the receipt. One surprising job you'll find in China is that of a fake significant other. During Chinese New Year, young city workers hire fake fiancés to impress their relatives and boost their status back home.
Surprisingly, foreigners can even find work in this line, with Chinese professionals paying to have an impressive foreign partner by their side. Finally, porters are a common sight in China, with these individuals providing services that most people could do for themselves. In rural places, you can even find porters offering to carry your shopping home, while in parks, you can hire a porter to carry you in a sedan chair.
With so many strange jobs to be found in China, it's no wonder that it's become a popular destination for those seeking interesting teaching jobs. From restaurant welcomers to fake significant others, there's something for everyone in the Middle Kingdom.
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