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The All-American Myth of the TikTok Spy

The American imagination of foreign espionage has become Chinese.

The form reached my inbox as part of routine paperwork, but I sensed a tinge of accusation. I had been invited to speak at a national laboratory. In order to access the facility, I was required to attest that I wasn’t a participant in a foreign talent recruitment program. China, my birth country, topped a short list of “countries of risk.”

I found the vigilance slightly amusing. I was going to give a talk! In a dash of mischievousness, I thought of scrawling over the form: “D-I-S-S-I-D-E-N-T!”

I have never liked the word “dissident” or claimed to be one, though others have labeled me as such. The point of the story is not that I’m special, but that I should have nothing to prove in the first place. No amount of public critique of Beijing’s policies or the personal cost dissent exacts can spare me from the extra scrutiny. As a Chinese person living in the US, I’m often treated as a potential spy before I’m seen as a human being.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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