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10 Craziest Chinese Government Jobs

by Nathan Wold
fact checked by Jamie Frater

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with the lack of job opportunities in the United States, you may want to look to an unlikely place: China. The Chinese government has created a host of bizarre professions to enact its outlandish—if not nutty—policies.

10 Porn Judge

porn judge

Do you have good taste in films of a sultry nature? Well, for all you connoisseurs out there, the Chinese Government may have the perfect job.

China employs a hoard of film judges. The Chinese government pays them to watch any and every video on the web that is remotely pornographic. Some judges claim to watch 700 videos from beginning to end each week to determine whether they should be censored. If the video is deemed unsavory in terms of Chinese censorship standards, the judges scrub the filthy content from the web to fulfill their mission of returning the Internet to a “clean and safe state.”

But if you were thinking of applying, hold your horses if you live the single life. All judges are required to be married. However, you may be able to join the fun if you’d be willing to forgo the $32,000 salary; over 3,000 Chinese men and women are volunteer judges with the Beijing Internet Association.

9 Video Game Farmers

gold farmer

In the United States, prison jobs for the incarcerated are limited to manufacturing license plates or books in braille for the blind. In some Chinese penitentiaries, prisoners are employed in a radically different line of work: playing video games. But if you’re a gamer sitting behind bars in San Quentin looking to transfer to a Shanghai prison, think again; this prison job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

It has been estimated that there are as many as 100,000 video game farmers in prisons across China. These prisoners are put to work on video games such as World of Warcraft, gold farming in 12-hour shifts. With their virtual gold farming, the prisoners build up virtual currency by performing monotonous tasks in the game. The virtual credits are turned over to the prison guards, who sell them for real money to other gamers.

Sometimes the prisoners are even paid for their video game farming, reportedly earning between $580 and $700 per day. Most prisoners, however, don’t see a dime of the lucrative video game farming profits. If the prisoners don’t meet their virtual quotas, they can be subject to harsh physical punishments and beatings.

8 Paid Protesters

china protest

The Chinese government recently employed a fleet of paid protesters when over 100,000 Chinese citizens packed the streets of Hong Kong to demand democracy. This protest was sparked by comments by Hong Kong Executive Council member Laura Cha: “American slaves were liberated in 1861 but did not get voting rights until 107 years later. So why can’t Hong Kong wait for a while?”

After the real protests garnered the attention of media around the nation—and the world—the Chinese government found means to counter the protest wherever they could. According to the BBC, who secretly caught the hiring of some of the fake protesters on videotape, the anti-protesters were paid up to HK$800 (or about $100 USD) and were mainly recruited from the poorest districts surrounding Hong Kong. Buses filled with government-appointed anti-protesters showed up on the scene just as the real protest swelled.

7 Internet Police

internet police

America’s most common occupation is retail salesperson, with nearly 4.5 million employed. The United States employs 2.7 million nurses and 2.3 million waitresses. On China’s list of occupations with the largest employment, you’ll find something a little surprising: Internet police. The Chinese government employs roughly two million people tasked with policing the Internet usage of China’s citizens.

China’s Internet police surveil the country’s Internet habits. Their primary objective is to hamper criticism of the Chinese government. Many of the Internet monitors scour the web to gather and discern public opinion. Other Internet police search for content unfavorable to the Chinese government and try to prevent Internet users in China from accessing it by blocking IP addresses. The principal goal of the Internet police is to prevent an uprising against the Chinese government by ensuring nothing damning can be communicated or organized virtually, as it was in places like Egypt and Libya.

The Internet police have a blacklist of specific keywords and search terms. If a keyword is typed into a search engine in China, like “Dalai Lama,” it’s flagged and censored, and search results are blocked. If a website hosted on a Chinese server is found to contain any of these blacklisted keywords, the owner of the site will receive a call from the Internet police, demanding the blacklisted keywords be removed, or else the website’s server will be unplugged and the site will go offline.

Chinese citizens are sometimes arrested for their Internet usage, too. In 2008 a Chinese teacher was arrested and sentenced to one year of labor in a “re-education” camp after posting a photo of collapsed schools in a Chinese province that had not been properly maintained by the Chinese government. In October 2014 a Chinese man was arrested by the Internet police for posting messages online which called on Chinese citizens to gather at a protest site in Hong Kong.

6 Phantom Employees

phantom employee

Do you like to get paid money, but hate working for it? Well, there might be a job for you in China. A phantom job, that is.

Until recently, the Chinese government employed over 160,000 phantom employees who were thought to have left their jobs but continued drawing salaries for their empty positions.

The phantom employees are often related to Chinese government officials. One of the highest-paid phantom jobs went to the son of the head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission. For his phantom job, the man was given a salary of $195,000 a year for more than five years despite the fact that he never went in to work for a single day to earn his paycheck.

In addition to phantom employees, China also has a problem with phantom cities, absent of inhabitants, complete with everything from towering skyscrapers to replicas of the Eiffel Tower.

5 Dissident Vacation Escort

mandatory vacation

The Chinese government supplies mandated vacations to some of its critics, as well as a policeman to keep them company. When the Chinese government is planning big events like the Beijing Olympics or legislative meetings—events that draw the eyes of the entire world—it rounds up dissidents and takes them on vacation, far away from the gaze of the public and the media.

A Chinese policeman of sorts escorts the dissidents out of the country and on a free, lavish vacation for however long it will take until the high-coverage event is over, sometimes for more than a week. A policeman accompanies the dissident to luxurious hotels overlooking tropical beaches where they will dine on extravagant meals—sometimes spending up to $160 per meal—and take in the sights hand-in-hand, whether they like it or not.

Make no mistake, if a dissident isn’t in the mood for being wined and dined around the world, they will be forced by any means necessary by Chinese police. Dissidents are forced by their police escorts to go to specific tourists sites on their trips.

Chinese dissidents call the practice “being traveled.”

4 Professional Pandas

professional panda

If you’ve ever seen a panda in a zoo, that panda was paid to be there and, in a sense, employed by the Chinese government.

That’s because China has a monopoly on giant pandas; every giant panda in a zoo in the world is owned by the Chinese government and rented out to zoos across the world. The Chinese government charges around $1 million USD annually per giant panda it rents out to the world’s zoos. The rentals usually last for 10 years and are often renewed after the end of the term.

China also makes money through panda breeding programs. Every panda it rents out is expected to be bred. For every new panda cub, the zoo conducting the breeding is required to pay up to $600,000 to China. If any of the rented pandas die in the custody of a zoo due to human error, the zoo is fined up to $500,000. The money is said to go to conservation efforts in China.

3 Hackers


In the United States, you may think of hackers as Guy Fawkes–masked scofflaws. In China, many hackers are government employees. The Chinese government employes an army of hackers for a variety of nefarious cyber missions, many of which target the United States.

Last month, Chinese government hackers were implicated in a massive breach into the computer networks of the United States Postal Service. The hackers took data from the USPS that includes the names of its employees and customers along with their emails and phone numbers.

In 2010 Chinese government hackers embarked on a similar mission when they hacked into Google’s computer networks. After gaining access into Google’s networks, the hacker reportedly obtained “sensitive” information including NSA-related court orders authorizing the government’s snooping on Google’s users.

China’s hackers also hacked into major military contractors’ computer networks as many as 20 times in one year, according to a Senate investigation. The hackers were able to access emails, documents, users passwords, codes, and flight details from the contractors who are tasked with making some of America’s most powerful weapons and military equipment.

The hackers have previously incensed American politicians when they broke into the computer networks of both Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s presidential campaigns in 2008. Hints at foul play first began when Chinese diplomats called McCain’s staffers to censure the Republican presidential candidate for privately corresponding to the president of China’s bitter rival, Taiwan. The only problem is that the private correspondence China objected to had not only yet to be released to the public, it hadn’t even been sent to Taiwan’s president. The correspondence sat in an offline document in the computer of a McCain staffer.

2 Organ Harvesters

organ harvest

A country of over one billion people, China has a lot of people in need of organ transplants. In fact, 300,000 patients are wait-listed every year for an organ, but sometimes only 30 will receive an organ transplant.

Chinese culture shuns organ donation. Common beliefs in China find it improper to remove an individual’s organs before he or she is buried. As a result, the country has faced an intractable deficit of organs desperately needed by ailing patients around the country.

However, in 1984 the Chinese government found what it thought was a solution to the organ shortage when it passed a law legalizing organ removal from executed prisoners, even if they didn’t give consent to do so. Some of the prisoners were reportedly still alive when their organs were harvested.

Quietly, the program grew. China executes around four times more prisoners than the rest of the world combined. China subsequently had one of the largest organ transplant programs in the world, peaking at 13,000 organ transplants per year in 2004. In 2009, it was estimated that around 65 percent of all transplanted organs in China originally came from executed inmates.

The organ harvesting practice was first vividly detailed in 2001 when a Chinese doctor seeking asylum told congressional investigators about his experience. The Chinese government has since sought to reform its organ harvesting and capital punishment policies after facing a growing chorus of international criticism.

It should come as no surprise that in 2012 when the Chinese government tried to reform capital punishment and lower execution rates, the country began to face a shortage of organs again.

China isn’t the only country found to be using such seedy prisoner organ harvesting schemes. One Israeli hospital was caught harvesting organs from dead Palestinians without the consent of the dead or their families. The Israeli government said it ended the controversial policy in the 1990s, but information about the practice didn’t reach the public until 2009.

1 The 50 Cent Army

internet troll

For all you incipient Internet trolls who take pride in wreaking your shrill havoc onto comment sections across the Internet, you can follow your hate-filled passion and make a living out of what you truly love. You might have to learn Chinese, though.

The Chinese government employs as many as 300,000 Internet commenters who are paid to post favorable comments about the Chinese government on relevant articles. They are called the 50 Cent Army, because they earn about 50 cents for every post they make.

The paid trolls try to disrupt any genuine comments or articles critical of the Chinese government by flooding the comment section with an array of well-planned comments following their commenting guidebook. One employee claims to receive an email from his local “Internet publicity office” who instruct him as to what news articles he should spend his day commenting on. The paid trolls are given a detailed list of instructions, like using their comments to “make America the target of criticism” whenever possible, and to never “directly confront [the idea of] democracy.” Each troll systematically uses countless different accounts to carpet bomb the comment section of any and every article they can.

Nathan is a freelance journalist and screenwriter.

fact checked by Jamie Frater