Update: While alluded to in the Chinese netizen comments translated below and pointed out by various chinaSMACK commenters as well, to clarify, these photos and the story attached to them are from a 2008 discussion forum post titled “Financial Crisis, Foreigner Comes to China to be Blue Collar Worker” that quickly spread across the Chinese internet at the time (and is currently experiencing a resurgence, hence the translation below).
It was subsequently reported (and now re-reported) that the man featured in the photos was actually a model hired to do advertising for the company, had entered the workshop to experience what it was like, and the photos were taken by an employee of the company assigned to accompany him during his visit. This employee decided to post the photos and fabricate a story relating to the then topical world financial crisis, which came to light when investigating Chinese reporters went to the factory, found that no such employee exists, and company management explained what had happened.
Please note that the images in this post have been edited to remove the model’s likeness in consideration of the model’s desire for privacy while preserving the integrity of the translation and reporting of this story.
American Young Man Working in China, Says Monthly Salary Only 1500 Yuan
Recently, a netizen photographed an American young man working at a Tianjin bicycle factory. The 22-year-old young man, named Crow [may be transliteration], is from a small town in Ohio, and has been in China for two years. His monthly salary is said to be only 1500 RMB.
Photo is of this American man’s dorm room.
Comments from NetEase:
[He] most certainly is here just to experience the life. Otherwise with 1500 yuan a month, [he] wouldn’t dare eat out. Although [the restaurant] is on the low-end, it’d still cost around 60 yuan. People who truly get a thousand and something hundred [in monthly income] wouldn’t dare to splurge like this!
Hongmei [Chinese cigarette brand]…Red Star Erguotou [alcohol]…fried peanuts…
Long live Chairman Mao!!!!! Support foreigners taking Chinese citizenship.
毛主义万岁 [网易广西南宁市网友]: (responding to above)
This American traitor, how could he work and live in what American dogs call “hell on earth”? Where is your dignity? Traitor, hurry and off yourself! Such an eyesore…
When even foreigners are treated like this, there’s no reason to even bring up Chinese people. Some people do the same work as him, but only receive a few hundred RMB.
网易重庆市网友 [小菜豆腐汤]： (responding to above)
A few hundred yuan? You sure there are people who would [take such a job]?
Why does a foreigner working a job get so much attention? ←_←
Don’t think it is strange for foreigners to work in China. Actually, they can’t find jobs in their own countries. To survive, they have no choice but to go out to find work.
Once you stay in our country for a time, you’ll acquire strong diaosi qualities, cigarette in the left hand, liquor bottle in the right.
[He is] engaged in a spying operation.
He came to learn the language. I used have a colleague, from Germany, came here for an internship/field research, because his college has such a program, [they] get academic credit for writing papers. In Beijing, it’s 2000 kuai per month, [those students] get to live in the hotel every day.
There is only one case of an American in China like this. But there is a whole street of Chinese people in America.
Handsome brother, I want to go with you back to America!
American people earn 1500 (RMB) each month in the Heavenly Kingdom, whereas the people of the Heavenly Kingdom make 25,000 [RMB] each month in the United States……
There are so many Chinese people earning 1500, why is an American guy earning 1500 such a big deal, so speechless……
Just by looking at his facial expression, I can tell, he regrets it.
Ultimately it is because American people are open-minded, bored in heaven and thus came to China.
He clearly did not know that China is synonymous with Hell.
Welcome to Hell.
He is here to rescue us!
This guy must’ve committed a crime in the US and doesn’t dare go back.
This guy simply can’t just be working a job.
It couldn’t be Snowden’s younger brother, could it? Came here for political asylum?
Doesn’t matter how low his salary is, girls who will pay him for his company are plenty, free sex.
Give me your identity, and I’ll go to America. I’ll give my identity to you, and you can come work at my company, where the monthly salary is more than 1500 [RMB], how about it?
The slogan on the wall: Don’t work hard today, work hard searching for a job tomorrow.
Life practice. Through this kind of experience, he can directly experience the real living conditions of hundreds of millions of Chinese workers, as well as empathize with the bitterness and suffering of that kind of life. Write a book in the future.
News reporters these days are without integrity/morals. Just how many years ago was this? Once again pulling this out? Before 2009 and especially before 2008, 1500 RMB was not considered low, because prices were relatively low. I remember in 2005 when I first stated working, my salary was only 550 kuai and my salary expectations was 1000+, while salary expectations in Jiangsu and Zhejiang were 1500+. In 2008, salary expectations wre 2000+, because prices had gone up, and now salary expectations are 3000+, and my expectations is in accordance with my relatively lower living expenses. I live in a small town in Suzhou City in Anhui, and even in a small town restaurant in the suburbs/outskirts, an appetizer or some peanuts will cost 6 kuai. Can Tianjin be lower than it is here? A stir-fried green bell pepper is is 8 RMB, 1500 can’t be even enough to eat in today’s Tianjin, right? And then there are cigarettes, liquor, phone bill, clothing, and traveling costs. Today’s not like in the past where one can travel without money. I remember when I was little when my parents brought me back to our hometown and had no money so we would hitch rides, hitching rides all the there. Although transportation now is more developed and convenient than in the past, if you don’t have money, you can try hitching a ride and they’ll just run you over with absolutely no one giving a shit. Seriously, without money, you can’t go anywhere. [He] lives in the factory’s dorm, could the utilities be included? I have never seen [employers] providing housing and utilities, where watching TV in dorms requires paying money and inserting a card in the set-top box. Adding all these little things together, how could 1500 be enough? If it has to be enough, one’d have to eat buns and drink tap water everyday. Is the editor once again pulling out outdated news to tell people not to complain about low wages, that even an American has run over to work, that his wages are so low yet even he doesn’t complain? Are you trying to say Americans can endure hardship/work hard and that’s why they’re strong and powerful, and that Chinese people cannot endure hardship/work hard?
kane413 [网易美国网友]: (responding to above)
No wonder, the federal minimum wage is now $7.25. Earning so little money, you don’t even have to pay income tax and even instead get earned income credit. Even working at McDonald’s in Ohio can get one $1200 each month. Him going so far away to work doesn’t even cover the money for his flight…
There are 1500 RMB/month salaries these days? Is this the 90s?
网易山东省泰安市手机网友 ip：124.132.*.*: (responding to above)
There are plenty in places where people live in unfinished/crude housing, wear patched pants, can’t get enough to eat, and can’t afford to go to school. You just haven’t seen [such places], nor will you see them on Xinwen Lianbo either.
This guy doesn’t have to worry about his other half haha
There are Heavenly Kingdom study abroad students who go to the US to wash dishes, but this really is the first time I’ve seen an American come to the Heavenly Kingdom to work [such a job]! American young guy! You will be worked to death!
This kid must have come to experience the life here … or the wumao dispatched him to pacify everyone’s feelings/anger~
锅奶奶 [网易江苏省泰州市网友]: (responding to comment above)
I agree, for native white people like him, there should be numerous English training agencies in China fighting to get him. For an foreign teacher, 10,000+ RMB per month is not a problem.
His monthly salary doesn’t even reach $250, I bet he wants to experience socialism…… naïve little foreigner.
Each man has his own way of living! [His] life is quite prosperous! Those government public security departments, shouldn’t you check if he has a legal work permit?
Come here to big sister, and big sis will provide for you.
This guy is probably a backpacker and his last stop was China. He originally planned to work in China to make enough money to buy a ticket back to America. Only after arriving did he discover that one month’s wages in the Heavenly Kingdom isn’t even enough for room and board. He’s worked for 2 years and still hasn’t saved enough money to buy a plane ticket, and has already lost all hope in returning to his country.
This young person’s mother wanted to toughen him up/train him, so she left him in China, without a single cent of money, wanting him to earn enough money to buy a airplane ticket before he can return to his country. He said his greatest hardship was not having friends. This is news from several years ago. He probably went back to America long ago.