China 2050: foreign migrant workers in China; netizens’ reaction

July 8, 2012Jing Gao13 Comments

From NetEase

French photographer Benoit Cezard, who has lived in Wuhan, Hubei province for six years, suddenly rose to fame on the Internet, after he orchestrated a series of photos in which Caucasians pose as migrant workers in China.

Benoit Cezard is convinced that by 2050, China will overtake the United States as the world’s No.1 economy, and as the result, foreigners will come to China for manual and low-paid jobs, such as street vendors and sanitation workers, most of which are currently held by low-cost workers from rural China.

(Profile of Benoit Cezard published in Global Times.)


Street vendor


Sanitation workers


Tutors for hire (The makeshift sign on the left: “Foreign language classes, one on one. Beginners classes. Language partners. French, German, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian”. The right one: “Extracurricular classes: Cooking, Chess, Spanish Guitar”.)


Construction workers


Motor rickshaw driver


Truck farmer

Top netizens’ comments on NetEase

淑香饰家 [网易浙江省宁波市网友]:2012-07-07 10:38:14 发表
At first sight, I felt amused and funny. But after a few more glances, I found that behind these photos is a thought about humanity. It’s very philosophical, worth contemplating.

网易海南省五指山市网友 [tiantang9] 的原贴:2
Now it is us Chinese who are doing these jobs around the world. Only after China becomes stronger can what’s in the photos materializes. Therefore, an admonition to those detractors: Development is the only golden rule.

网易山东省济南市网友 [警察出来洗地啦] 的原贴:3
I can’t get the philosophy. I just feel as if I were reading Andersen’s fairy tales.

I simply regard it as a MIX life experience.

会飞的爪哇 [网易海南省海口市网友]:2012-07-07 10:42:22 发表
The looks and the crops look convincing. But their faces don’t have the vicissitudes of life and the aloofness.

只看侧面 [网易北京市石景山区网友]:2012-07-07 10:33:47 发表
Based on multiple factors, this scenario just can’t occur.

别打我PP [网易江苏省盐城市网友]:2012-07-07 10:41:39 发表
Food, demolition, chengguan…even foreigners understand the hardships of life of Chinese people living at the bottom rung of the society.

操场哥 [网易浙江省杭州市网友]:2012-07-07 10:42:50 发表
This set of photos has appealed to our countrymen’s vanity and satisfied their wild fantasies.

让李刚飞 [网易广东省东莞市网友]:2012-07-07 10:52:31 发表

Here in our country,
You guys are really comfortable.
Nothing to worry about even if you rape.
Nothing to worry about even if you beat people.
Nothing to worry about even if you hurl insults.
There are always people who aid you guys.
Therefore, you just keep living here.
Everything will be given to you,
Including things you really desire.

flowerswy [网易广东省深圳市网友]:2012-07-08 10:13:23 发表
Among the 10 million strong foreigners every year, how many of them are like that? Look at the image we Chinese project abroad. If you go abroad more, observe and listen, you will know.

永恒依恋 [网易重庆市网友]:2012-07-08 10:16:28 发表
It really looks like a publicity stunt!!

After 2012, the center of the world will shift to China.

网易江苏省常州市网友 [德荣电子大伙计] 的原贴:2
The precondition is: China is not entangled into war by the intrigue that the United States carefully designs. The U.S. is attempting to drag China down with wars in order to make sure its central status in the world is not shaken by China.

网易广东省深圳市网友 [爬墙找壁花] 的原贴:3
This country won’t make me happy a bit even if it becomes the No. 1 in the universe.

网易河北省沧州市网友 [永恒中国心] 的原贴:
Those who go abroad from China are elites. Those who come to China are…

bhtxszc29692 [网易福建省三明市网友]:2012-07-08 09:57:19 发表
It turns out that Chinese are not the only ones that are fond of wild fantasies.

13 comments to “China 2050: foreign migrant workers in China; netizens’ reaction”

  1. Tseng Kin-Wah | July 8, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I wonder what will be the fortunes of the great Chinese Diasporas by then. After so much sacrifice by their forebears to bring them out of China, will they be smuggling themselves back into China for a better future? What irony.

  2. Blacksoth | July 8, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Interesting photo concept but based on a weak premise. China is unlikely to reach its full potential if they don’t change the way they do things.

    India would be the better bet.

  3. Mad Dog | July 9, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Pretty funny and clever. Kind of overlooks the fact that China is full of major problems. Japan had some glory days, but then they hit a bubble economy that burst and left millions hurt. In China, the bubble will be much bigger (it already is) and many of these very proud Chinese “patriots” will not be so proud any more. China has a chance to be number one, but not with this government.

  4. Shanghaier | July 10, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    A more realistic one would be a mix of Chinese and foreigners. Several kind of foreigners.

  5. Martin | July 10, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I personally estimate between 100 and 200 million immigrants to China in 2050 ranging from chap unskilled labour (from India, Banglades etc.) via english-speaking housmaids (Philippines) to academic white collar workers up to top scientists (from all around the world). By an estimated Chinese population of 1.5 billion this would mean around 10%, which would be still less than the percentage of immigrants in European countries (Germany i. e.: 30% of the population have a migrant background with at least one grandparent being an ethnic non-German immigrant).
    However, the immigrants will stuck to the big cities with Shanghai becoming as multi-cultural as New York nowadays (probably with English as the second official language) whereas the countryside will see much fewer immigrants.

    Will be an interesting development to watch.

  6. André M. Smith | July 10, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    The irony to which Tseng Kin-Wah refers is not without precedent. Only two quick examples will suffice to make my point.

    From the early years of the nineteenth century The Lower East Side of Manhattan held within its bounds the greatest accumulations of cast-off immigrant populations not before seen in combined number and variety in the history of the world, east or west. Understandably, crime, disease, domestic violence, ethnic rivalries, and poverty were endemic. The goal of all then living within the bounds of The Lower East Side was to flee; to flee from Manhattan as they had done similarly from earlier terrors. And, now, in 2012? Businesses flourish and the cost of living there, unfortunately, can rival that of most other neighborhoods in Manhattan.

    The section of London called Whitechapel was, for centuries, that location in town pedestrians traversed at their peril, either day or night. It was the area in which Jack the Ripper flourished. “By the late 16th century the suburb of Whitechapel and the surrounding area had started becoming ‘the other half’ of London. Located east of Aldgate, outside the City Walls and beyond official controls, it attracted the less fragrant activities of the city, particularly tanneries, breweries, foundries (including the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which later cast Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and London’s Big Ben) and slaughterhouses.” The Whitechapel of today bears no visible relationship to its tawdry ancester.

    And that irony to which Tseng Kin-Wah refers? Perhaps not so ironic! Certainly an evolvement with precedent.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

    • Blacksoth | July 11, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      All of which overlooks the requirements for those changes being made. Yes, change is possible but you have to be adapatable and open to it and there are plenty of barriers in China that don’t carry over not to mention competitive advantadges of other countries that might derail any goals set.

      P.S. You forgot to include that you’re a 3rd grade spelling bee winner. :P

  7. Carla | July 11, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I agree! China 2050 th most poweful country worldwide! The reason is simple = CHINESE WORK HARD, EUROPEAN HATE TO WORK, ONLY WANT THEIR UNEMPLOYMENT SUBSIDY

    • André M. Smith | July 12, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      What surprises me most among commentators (and not only those posted on Ministry of Tofu) attempting to foretell the coming of a China with world preëminence is the unending vigor of certainty one can read in the comments.

      Prognostication is, at its most harmless, an amusing indoor sport. Although it can motivate by establishing a fanciful goal shared by a significant number of collaborative dreamers it seldom can lead to a fulfillment as originally conceived.

      Scientists committed to an understanding of global warming reliably predict that the transformation of the salinity of the world’s oceans will destroy most marine life within the next twenty-five years; marine life that evolved into its present forms over the past several hundreds of millions of years. Trawl fishing has contributed significantly to the depletion of both deep sea species and the habitat in which they live and reproduce. There is no city in China that is bound within air space registered as healthy by any current standard of analysis. and There is no moving body of water in China that is not polluted, most often by the obstructions of the overbuilding of dams.

      Most of my understanding of the arguments predicting the coming world dominance of the Chinese people is premised on a belief of them as some kinds of superior workers; as though work, itself, is the foundation of superiority. Every civilization in the history of the world has overtaken its competitors — read here ADVERSARIES — foremost by military might. Were the Babylonians, the Mongol Hordes, the Pharaonic Egyptians, the Aztecs, the Attic Greeks, and the Iberians flourishing in The Age of Exploration all workers? Not by any modern definition. They were marauding slave holders with captives who themselves did what work needed to be done; tilling the land, building the ships, forging the armaments, constructing the cities, building the Pyramids, etc. And where do predictors of future events foretell China will fit into a modern world? And just what will those Chinese be doing other than working?


      Leisure: The Basis of Culture and the Philosophical Act. By Josef Pieper – Ignatius Press (2009) – Paperback – 143 pages – ISBN 1586172565
      Pieper shows that Greeks understood and valued leisure, as did the medieval Europeans. He points out that religion can be born only in leisure — a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture. He maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for nonactivity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture — and ourselves. These astonishing essays contradict all our pragmatic and puritanical conceptions about labor and leisure; Joseph Pieper demolishes the twentieth-century cult of “work” as he predicts its destructive consequences.


      In 1975 I saw a lively television interview in New York with Leopold Stokowski. As always with him, the very air remained alert. The hour concluded with

      Q1 from interviewer : Sir, can you tell us what you believe the status of classical music will be twenty-five years hence?

      A1 from Stokowski : Today is Thursday. Can you tell us what will be happening on Saturday?

      Q2: China thirty-eight years hence, in 2050?

      A2: Any takers on this one?

      André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
      Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
      Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
      Formerly Bass Trombonist
      The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
      Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
      The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.
      P.S. Please forgive the oversight : 3rd grade spelling bee winner.

      • icedwater | July 14, 2012 | Permalink Reply

        You do have some interesting points, André. You also seem to be very well read and capable of drawing inspiration from a number of sources. But I fail to see where including your qualifications on a forum discussion are relevant.

        Military conquest is so last millennium. Now, the control of information is key. While military conflict will never go out of fashion, this has to be used in conjunction with media and information manipulation. China has shown its prowess in this, despite the cracks and proxy servers that might be appearing.

        I do agree that the ability to work harder and more than anyone else is not a necessary condition for world domination, and that leisure has its merits. However, I fail to see the relevance of the global warming discussion to the thread; could you please enlighten me?

      • High-Skooler | May 6, 2013 | Permalink Reply

        You are a douchebag.

  8. John | September 4, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    This cannot occur because China has 1.4 billion people.
    There is just not enough economic growth to create enough white collar jobs.
    And even if there was their is not sufficient education infrastructure to fill the need.
    China would have to import talent, high skilled workers.

    Therefore, foreigners would not be coming to China for low paid jobs, where their is a surplus of people.

    Low skilled workers go to countries where there is a shortage of labor in the relevant sectors cause everyone is working in white collar industries such as developed countries in the EU, Australia, Canada, USA.

  9. André M. Smith | December 7, 2016 | Permalink Reply

    Three-and-one-half years after widespread ethnocentric assertions of the coming of Chinese primacy in an ever-changing world, what has that world become?

    The United Kingdom has withdrawn from The European Union, thereby undermining one of the premises upon which China was basing its economic anchorage in Europe. A muslim invasion has destroyed everything in Europe it has, to date, encountered; with promises from the invaders that what has occurred is only a foretaste. Islam and Chinese communism? Not a good mix, if the state of their relations in Xinjiang can be read as a bellwether. Venezuela, one of the newer of the economic partnerships established by China in South America, is in near-total economic and political collapse. Diplomatic and commercial relations between Cuba and The USA are being rekindled for the primary purpose of returning Cuba under the direct influence of The USA and diverting its sugar wealth – both agricultural and economic – away from China, an important trading partner with Cuba for the past forty or so years. There is no reliable foundation upon which one may conclude that real estate speculation in China is a stable investment. There is a great deal of informed analysis concluding that the collapse of that real estate phantom wealth is heading China to a major social upheaval; one with a calculable misfortune for The Communist Party. And Donald Trump’s implications that The USA will remain a committed ally of the nation of Taiwan has been received by the government in Beijing as a fire cracker with a very short fuse.

    No more than two hours of close reading on any of the foregoing subjects covered extensively on the Internet will show clearly that any prognostication taken in the world of 2012 will have had no forecasting value predicting the condition of that world thirty-eight years hence, 2050.

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