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11/08/2019

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Ada Agada

A very entertaining read! It'll be interesting doing a research fellowship in China.

anonymous

To me it seems morally unacceptable to work for a regime that maintains labor camps for religious minorities, takes political prisoners, and suppresses minimal freedom of speech among many other human rights violations.

It cannot be acceptable to work for the Chinese government, even in such a removed position as philosophy professor, and in certainly cannot be acceptable to sign something endorsing their authoritarian policies without need.

I know from my own experience that the job market is extremely disheartening, but it seems to me morally preferable to do some honest non-philosophical work in the US than work for a dictatorial and aggressive one-party regime.

Perhaps Peter is in a situation that excuses such a choice, but I urge everyone to think hard whether they are willing to pay the moral costs of working for a dictatorship.

thrasymachus

Anonymous: do you really think the US government is much better? What makes our concentration camps 'honest' and China's 'dictatorial and aggressive'? Are you aware that we set up concentration camps at the border, that the US police force is militarized against black Americans, that our prison system is an enormous human rights violation akin to slavery, etc? That the wealth of the country is built on genocide? I am not subscribing to some weak relativism: the horrors committed by the USFG does not excuse the Chinese government, but why is it that these concerns only are voiced when discussing foreign governments?

Anonymous person

Anonymous: I am somewhat sympathetic, but it is hard not to point out the horrors of what the US government has done and is doing (both at home and abroad), and so I wonder if it might not also be unacceptable to work for them. Then, consider where the money comes from at private universities in the US. Typically such schools are investing in corporations that are doing really horrible things (really!). So I think it becomes a little harder to judge these things. It’s probably immoral to work for any of these places, and the difference (if there is one) is a matter of degree.

US philosopher

China's concentration camps are "dictatorial" because, well, they are run by a literal dictatorship while the US's are not. Did that really need to be said?

We in academics and other positions of privilege in the US should have more concern for these issues, but trying to pull some sort of "both sides" comparison between China's literal one-party dictatorship and the US's flawed, racist democracy is ... I want to say "a joke", but at the least it's insensitive to the facts. I'm not surprised to see it, but I don't know how to respond to "the difference (if there is one) is a matter of degree". Of course there is a difference, and it's not obviously only a matter of degree.

Setting aside obvious legal and political differences which aren't worth stating, another example is that, when I took a job at a state-funded institution in the US, I did not have to sign any documents affirming my loyalty to US government policy. I know Trump would like to change that sort of thing, but I'm pretty sure even federal employees aren't signing such papers.

Look, I'm not piling on Peter. I'm not trying to second anonymous' criticism. Although anonymous raises real concerns, I don't think Peter's decision is unreasonable. I was very interested to hear Peter's experiences and found the whole thing very informative. So, thanks Peter. I'm just reacting to thrasymachus' and Ap's seemingly cynical and, I feel, strongly ungrounded response.

Julia

US philosopher: When I took my job at a US state school, I had to sign a document that I will uphold the US constitution and the constitution of my state. So there's something kind of like it.

More generally, I get the concern about working for a government that is non-democratic and does the morally abhorrent stuff China does to some of its people. I just wonder whether boycott is the right strategy. As a foreign professor, one has a unique opportunity to shape the education of Chinese students, and be their window into the world. I think ultimately we don't gain much by isolating ourselves from the people in countries whose governments we disagree with. If we think it matters that ordinary Chinese people get a good education in critical thinking and philosophy, and that they have a way of experiencing non-Chinese perspectives, then being a professor there can do a lot of good. Given these tangible benefits, one might ask how to weigh them against the fact that one's salary still comes from the state to which one objects. My sense is that the difference one can make "on the ground" is bigger than the difference one makes by not taking a job in China. But this is of course not taking into account that one might still feel like one is somehow complicit in the state's actions when one gets paid by it.

Thrasymachus

@US philosopher

I don't think that you were interested in reading my comment charitably. The opening of your post takes a quotation out of context and answers a question that wasn't asked. I asked for a contrast between the kind of concentration camps operated by the US government and the kind operated by the Chinese government (on moral grounds). You also suggest that I am trying to draw an equivalence between the US and Chinese governments, but I say explicitly, for example, that I am not trying to excuse either governments' human rights violations through some kind of whataboutism.

I brought up these concerns because it seemed to me that anonymous was concerned with someone working for a government that wantonly infringes on human rights. It seems to me that the same reservations should apply to the United States. It is fine to draw a difference in degree, but I sincerely doubt that there are a proportionate number of people conscientiously objecting to working as a philosophy professor in the United States. If there's a difference in kind, it's not really clear to me that the difference in kind stems from the fact that China wantonly violates human rights and the United States does not, because that is simply not true.

I do not think I will respond again. It is very unpleasant to be straw manned into being 'typical' and 'cynical.'

Amanda

I've had to sign a document saying I will support the US constitution.

Even if China's government is much worse than the US government, I don't get the "refusing to work for them" thing. What good does that do? It seems that if a country has problems, especially with freedom of speech and other liberty suppression issues, the best thing someone can do is make the huge sacrifice and move there, and teach them philosophy, a discipline founded in critical thinking and autonomous thought. I just don't get these "dirty hands" arguments, because all of our hands are dirty, and there is very little evidence that having clean hands does any good at all, most likely, it only makes those bad situations worse. It is also nearly impossible to be consistent. Okay, so the Chinese government is very bad. Most Americans probably have 80-90% of their material items made in China. We support them every day. And unlike teaching philosophy, when I buy a cheap t-shirt on ebay that doesn't help the anyone learn to be an autonomous thinker. There are so, so, many bad actors that we interact with everyday, it seems arbitrary to select specific kinds or degrees of bad actors that are off limits.

Overseas TT

My five cents: whoever wants philosophers employed outside of the English-speaking word to feel discouraged from contributing to this (up to now excellent and highly informative) post series in the future, should by all means go ahead and call them out for their personal and professional choices. Just saying.

turkey

Overseas TT:

I'm a recently appointed assistant professor in Turkey, and have worried whether working here somehow tacitly endorses the current political regime (or is otherwise somehow immoral, even if it doesn't "tacitly endorse" the regime). Reading the critical responses to this piece is useful for me—they articulate arguments and attitudes that help clarify my internal concerns, even if I ultimately end up disagreeing with those arguments and attitudes (I presently have not made up my mind on the morality of my situation, btw). It is fine, as I see it, to "call out" someone for doing something that you perceive as immoral, so long as this leads to discussion and critical engagement on both sides, and is not just empty virtue signalling or guilt mongering. We are philosophers, and I don't see any good no reason to close off important topics from discussion for fear that someone's feelings might get hurt. I should also note that the critical responses above have make me more inclined (not less!) to try to contribute to discussion in this sort of venue.

Overseas TT

turkey,

I'll be frank with you. We all read news from China. We know what the political system is, and we all heard of the issues that anonymous raised in post #2. I read the news; I'm sure other readers of this blog do, too. So there's no new factual information in these call-outs. (Same for Turkey.)

If an academic takes up a job in China, it's safe to assume that she is already aware of what the situation is like there because she's an educated person who reads the news, made her own assessment of all the pros and contras, and decided in favor of going for it. You don't have to agree with it or like it, but protesting at that point, "you shouldn't have done that" is like commenting on a philosopher's gourmet food post, "you really shouldn't be eating chicken!". Perhaps not, but as you said we are philosophers, and we all heard of the arguments for vegeterianism, and - gasp! - some of us are still unmoved. Maybe none of us should be unmoved, but it doesn't matter. These call-outs contain no new factual information; the only thing we learn from them is that the commenter felt important to share that he made a different moral assessment than the poster.

Sorry if this comes across as irritated, turkey - it's not aimed at you. I'm glad you found calls to the effect that the Peter Finocchario should have chosen unemployment over working in China useful. My reaction was, and still is, "sigh, can we move on already"?

Ed

Amanda said:

"I don't get the "refusing to work for them" thing. What good does that do? "

The good is not legitimizing them in philosophy. Suppose China succeeds in becoming a major force in philosophy due to the influx of foreign philosophers. That would shape the discipline. Given China's views on speech, we shouldn't want that to happen.

And yeah, most of the world's countries have done horrible things outside philosophy. But China is doing horrible outside philosophy and bad things (suppressing ideas) in philosophy. That's a relevant difference between China and, say, the US.

Anon

Ed: I'm curious about your claims om China suppressing philosophy. Can you be more specific?

Amanda

Ed I guess you and I have different ideas of what it would look like if China became a successful philosophical force. I think that if foreign philosophers make China a successful player in professional philosophy, it will be because these philosophers are publishing good work. I cannot see how else it would happen. And if they are publishing good work, it seems unlikely that this work would somehow be suppressing freedom of speech. How could that happen? It seems more likely that philosophers will be opening up free discussion in a country that very much needs that opening-up.

I don't really understand the connection between China becoming a force in philosophy and philosophy as a whole losing free speech. How would the Chinese government influence US and European philosophers, just because China has some successful philosophers? Are you thinking that conferences would be held in China and people wouldn't be able to freely express themselves at these conferences? Given the time involved in traveling to China, I find it hard to believe that China would ever be a major location for western philosophical conferences. And if they were, but were also clearly suppressing speech, i find it even harder to believe that the profession would just go to these conferences anyway. There are lot of great philosophers in Australia. But I know few Europeans or Americans that go there, because it is just logistically so difficult. Even less would go there if Australia suppressed free speech.

Anyway, you cannot know that hiring American philosophers to work in China will result in speech suppression in the US and around the world. At best, it is a speculative guess. And it seems just as plausible that hiring foreign philosophers will actually improve freedom of speech conditions, rather than suppress them.

Also when you say, "Not legitimizing them in philosophy" you make it sound like foreign workers in China somehow legitimizes the Chinese government? Why? I just don't get why an American working for China is some type of support for the Chinese government. We certainly don't think that Europeans working in America are supporting Trump. In fact, I would assume the opposite: most Europeans doing philosophical work can't stand Trump, and in general can't stand the US government.

LYF

I am a Chinese national who graduated from the undergraduate Philosophy program in Wuhan University 3 years ago and I am now a doctoral student in Philosophy in the US. I am delighted to read this post as it brings up some fond memory from my college days.

I agree that many of the moral concerns about the conduct of the Chinese government raised in this comment thread are valid and pressing. However, I feel like the perspective of Chinese philosophy students has been improperly neglected in this thread. (except for that one comment made by julia)

For various reasons, studying western philosophy in China is hard. There is only a few professors who knows the materials; and of these few, most of them are only capable of teaching undergraduate level courses. If students want to do better philosophy oversea in the US, no professors in the department can help them, because they simply don't understand how application to grad school in philosophy in the US works. Moreover, all these difficulties would be exacerbated for students who come from a non-privileged background, whose parents cannot afford for a summer school abroad or don't have family connections with American academia. This is a situation that is extremely frustrating and unfair to the students in China who care about western philosophy and hope to work on it. Now that having foreign professors in the department can substantially improve the situation in so many ways; and I think this should be a weighty ethical reason in support of working as a foreign professor in China.

Speaking for myself, if it is not for the help a foreign professor (Matt, who was hired on my senior year and who is still a faculty in Wuhan Uni) offered, I would never have a chance to do philosophy in the US; and that is life-changing for me. However, I still know a lot of talented, passionate students in China who are not so lucky as I do to be able to further pursue their interest in western philosophy. I can feel their frustration and disappointment; it is like you are deprived of your chance of doing the kind of philosophy you like and join the conversations with other philosophers because you are a Chinese. Now how can I tell them "actually, that's true, you have no chance to receive better education because Chinese government is corrupt"?

Paul Taborsky

A brief note about the population figure quoted for Wuhan. Most Chinese cities are part of larger regional areas that bear the same name, so I suspect the 9 million figure quoted is for the regional municipality of Wuhan, which would include many small villages and towns, and not for the city itself. I used to live in Changsha, one province south. The actual municipal population at that time (2000s) was around 1.5 million, but the surrounding municipality (which included many smaller cities) was around 6 million. It was the latter figure which was regularly reported in the media. I think most urban population figures reported for China in western media confuse these two numbers.

NP

Only tangentially related to philosophy per se: but recently I was asked to conduct a class on the functioning of open markets, for Chinese nationals working in the energy sector. The contract I was offered stated that all content must be "culturaly specific", on which obviously I needed to seek clarification. "It means, you must not say 'Communist Party of China is rubbish'", I was told.

I replied that this wouldn't be a problematic restriction; but that I would be telling them monopolies are a bad thing. "That's OK", they said, "... that's economics".

(The class, BTW, was enthusiastic, diligent, moderately open-minded, and only too keen to talk politics during the breaks.)

Avalonian

I think that we can all recognize that we are morally compromised in various ways, being complicit in various systems that support human rights abuses. But I want to say that there is something deeply pernicious about using this fact to deny something that is vitally morally important: there are lines that cannot be crossed. An oft-repeated lesson of the Holocaust--one we have apparently not yet learned--is that once certain lines are crossed, we cannot tolerate or support agents who knowingly cross those lines. Does working in the US often mean tacit support for lots of awful things? Yes, and this should be troubling to us all. but does working in the US mean tacit support for starvation camps and 1984-style thought suppression? No, it does not.

Don't believe me? Watch: Fuck Trump, he's a moron, a child, a pernicious asshole. There. I just said something that, if said analogously in China, could have me "disappeared" in a matter of days. This is a matter of public record, as are the images coming out of China which are *literally* indistinguishable from photos taken at Auschwitz. I don't know what exactly we should do about all of this. But I do know that the "but the US does bad things too!" is a pernicious and evasive rhetorical tactic which, if followed through to its logical conclusion, would have us tolerating another Holocaust.

Matias Slavov

I think making a country's philosophical and academic culture more international and open is a laudable thing. The criticism in many of the comments is ill-founded.

Peter Finocchiaro

Paul Taborsky:

You're right that the figures typically reported by Chinese sources come from a more expansive definition of what counts as a city population. That's part of the reason I said "somewhere around 9 million".

But, in this case, I don't think the 9 million figure is off-base. The higher figures I've seen for Wuhan in 2019 are closer to 11 or 12 million. A few Chinese sources will distinguish that higher figure from an "urban population" figure just south of 9 million. Also, the United Nations has some data that says the "urban agglomeration" population of Wuahn is around 8.2 million, a few hundred thousand short of Chicago's.

At any rate, I think you're right to flag this for readers who may not know that Chinese municipal divisions don't neatly match those typically used in the USA.

As for other comments in this thread: I'm grateful that my post has sparked an interesting and important conversation.

ZT

I find it funny woking in China is interpreted as working for the dictatorship, rather than working for the innocent students there... Actually, you take money from the government (thereby hurt it, so be greedy: take as much as you can and embezzlement is encouraged!), while at the same time you educate young people who may one day overthrow the government. Gentlemen, by working in China you are *contributing* to democratization in China, not the opposite!

Anonymous Coward

First bit of background: I was offered a similar position at a similar Chinese university and ended up not taking it, though mainly because the Chinese government didn't seem to appreciate attempts to negotiate contract terms. (I tried to convince them, for instance, that they shouldn't pay me a publication bounty that was greater than the cost of paying a predatory publisher to publish nonsense, because giving an American a money pump is a poor idea.)

Some comments on this Wuhan position: I don't think it can be accurate to say that any position at Wuhan is the equivalent of a TT (or T) position in the US. Contracts, at least the one I was offered, are term-limited and need to be renewed after a set period. The renewal was represented as a relatively trivial productivity check, but that doesn't mean political or other reasons couldn't crop up that would prevent a renewal. It is not a tenure system. This should be obvious, because we're talking about China.

Second bit of background: I work in Europe and refuse to work in America for what I at least once believed were moral reasons.

Some comments on (not) working in America: I think it can be ok to work in China while refusing on moral grounds to work in America, for the reason that you might be invested in the moral rectitude of America, but not particularly care about what other countries do. I am not personally invested in any way in the moral rectitude of the Chinese government. If they want to do immoral stuff, of course I would find that objectionable, but what they do doesn't reflect on me, as far as I can tell. But I do think that what the American government does reflects on me, so I have stronger objections to tacitly supporting, for example, American human rights violations. I don't think it's ok, to give another example, for me to freely cross the US border with my family because we have documents, when other people are imprisoned and even have their children kidnapped and trafficked for the alleged crime of trying to cross that border. These objections are sufficiently strong that I don't want my children to grow up in the US under its current government, that I won't currently visit the US to the extent that I can avoid it, and that I have tried very hard to get jobs outside of the US. But this doesn't mean that my hands aren't dirty or that I'm not complicit in something else. For instance, for a while I was working in a country that got rich from WW2. Is it ethical to enjoy a high standard of living by moving to a country that got rich from WW2? I doubt it. There is probably nothing we can do, short of moving to a third-world country and living a life of dedicated activism, that would remove these kinds of stains. But that doesn't mean we should deny our complicity. We all have to navigate our own complicity. Perhaps it'll be obvious that, given all that, I don't really think anybody posting here is in a position to evaluate the ethics of Peter's choices.

Decline

It's an amazing sign of our civilizational decline that signing a document promising to uphold the US Constitution strikes a professional academic as no better than signing a document promising to uphold the dictatorial and authoritarian brutality of the Party.

The current US administration enforcing border policy in an inhumane manner does not equate with the enslavement of millions of Uighur minorities for the eventual purpose of eradication. For one, the US Constitution ensures the rights of the American people to vote out the current regime, a possibility if not a certainty at this point for the next election. The Party will not be displaced and the Uighurs will either be entirely eliminated or utterly transformed into servants of the state, given enough time.

Peter, and his supporters in the comments, think the perks of being a white showpiece for the Party outweigh the moral atrocities committed by that same party.


Virtue Signaler

It’s astounding to me that people think working as a philosophy professor at a public university in China is equivalent to being a white showpiece for the Communist Party of China. Never mind all the potential good a western-educated professor can bring to a campus full of bright young minds (Wuhan University is apparently highly ranked in China), most of whom are in one way or another victims of the Chinese dictatorship but who are starting to receive enlightenment, so to speak, for the first time. I can’t see that *not* be a good thing.

I also find it interesting that the comment made by LYF, an important perspective on this issue from a Wuhan graduate, has thus far been ignored.

Decline indeed, civilizational or not.

Anon

I was recently offered a job at a major Chinese University. The Chinese Professor making the offer openly told me that I would be free from censorship if I stuck to my politically removed main research area, but that if I continued with my side interests in social and political philosophy, that would be a reason not to come.

Tammy

"The Chinese Professor making the offer openly told me that I would be free from censorship if I stuck to my politically removed main research area, but that if I continued with my side interests in social and political philosophy, that would be a reason not to come."

Free from censorship in the sense Hobbes understands freedom, but probably not in the sense Berlin or Pettit understands freedom. Important not to talk past each other.

Anon

Oh yes, I mean the second comment would have been enough to never make me consider it. I could not live under that regime even if I never wanted to do socially relevant philosophy.

Amanda

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see anyone say that singing the US constitution document was equivalent to singing the document in China.

It is perfectly consistent to think that the Chinese government is much worse than the US government, while also thinking it is morally defensible, even morally admirable, to take a job in China. As ZT said, why see things as working for the oppressive government rather than for the oppressed people? And please don't tell me if is because the pay check is from the government. It would be silly, after all, to demand that oppressed persons, many of them in difficult financial situations, pay your salary.

WhatTheyThink

I'd like to repeat something raised by Virtue Signaler: this is a discussion about teaching philosophy in China, but the only post from a student who has studied in China - LYF - has been ignored (except for Virtue Signaler). Do we really want to stick to our impressions about China without paying attention to what those in China think?

Tim

I spent some time at Wuhan a few years back. I still cherish the students I met there, the beauty of the campus, and the liveliness of the city. Also, the birthplace of Chinese punk!

Universities form their own community that transcends national borders. Just as many professors and students in the U.S. disagree with the policy of the government there, the same goes for professors and students in other countries with respect to their own governments. Open discussion that takes place in philosophy classrooms in universities, regardless of what country they are located in, is almost always a good thing.

Teaching students from a culture as different as Chinese culture is hard work, and it is lonely living as a foreigner in a city like Wuhan, despite the many great things going on there. The author of this article is a philosophical hero. I wish him only the best in the work he is doing, and hope that he writes much more about his experiences teaching philosophy in China.

ZPZ

I'm a Chinese national student studying in Europe right now. Coincidently, I was also studied at Wuhan University several years ago before Peter and other foreign philosophers came.
People seem to concern the moral problem of teaching philosophy in a totalitarian country. I think the opposite. Because the CCP controlled China is such an awful place academically and politically, philosophers who want to have more moral influence should accept offers from China and teach those young people. They may grow up, get rid of brainwashing education and even become a freedom defender in the future because of you teaching them how to think.
The contract content relates to censorship is a minor issue, because in China the CCP is supposed to be above the law. This means that the legal system itself is illegal; it has no moral base. So you won't have a moral issue even if you violate the contract. Or if you want to discuss political problems (e.g. HK, Xinjiang, Tibet), do it privately but make sure the students will not report you.

Naive Hoper

As Chinese myself, I totally understand the concern about westerners being showpieces of CCP.

It could happen, especially if this westerner is willing to compromise his own academic ethnics to defend the dictatorship of Chinese government. There are many foreigners in China public media serves such role and get rich from acting their endorsements of CCP. Many Chinese academics are also known to be ass-kissers of ridiculous CCP policies. But I guess they are not only trading in their academic ethnics, but also the possibilities to achieve a good name out of China.

If the foreigners hired by Chinese government are loyal to their own views about China and not be lying to the public, I would not see any wrong in them. There are still possibilities that one day their works or themselves will become showpieces in unimaginable extent. We can always debate on the moral value of “Good intentions led to bad results”. The world is becoming more and more complicated and if we have to be fully ready before action, maybe we will miss the opportunity forever. China nowadays is kind of a country full of “Bad intentions led to bad results”, I will appreciate the ones who dare to take the risks and actually, ACT.

SAL

First off, as a Chinese student of political theory currently abroad, a big shout out to Peter and others who are trying to make a difference in Chinese philosophical academia as foreigners. I don't think it is an understatement to say that you are, indeed, philosophical heroes.

Any "dirty hands" argument should be at least somewhat sensitive to the consequentialist concerns as some have already mentioned: by virtue of working in China as a foreign philosophy professor, do you do more good or less than working elsewhere (in a morally purer environment, I suppose) considering the tangible possibilities of shaping ideas, educating students, and, well, changing lives? It also begs another question: are people joining depts in China because they don't understand the gravity of what's happening here, or because they think transformations, if they were to taken place, must happen from the inside?

I appreciate the efforts of people like Peter as a Chinese national because by entering the game, the game itself can be changed. Bit by bit, yes. But that's still significantly better, especially when you have the privilege in China to discuss academically-inspired politically-relevant questions in English where a lot of the meaningful and tough discussions can really take place. If by watching the news from abroad is enough to work out all the best answers to hard, real-life, morally pressing questions, why do you need philosophy (and probably more so, political theory and political science)?

AA

I am astonished when I see that someone mentioned “millions of Uyghurs are enslaved” as if it is a concrete fact.

If you are a truly independent thinker please spend sometime googling you will find that the figures are guesstimates at best, be it one million or three million.

I am not saying that there is no labor camp in Xinjiang or CCP is not horrible . I just feel that we as academics can be more reflective on the news we read. If you have connections with one of those “evil countries”, Russia, China, Iran, you will find that reality can be quite different from what you read from western news media.

FCP

I think many previous comments have amply shown that the idea that working as a philosophy professor at a Chinese university is a form of working for a dictatorial regime is very wrong. It is wrong because it is simplistic in the extreme. Moral clarity is certainly a good thing, but clarity of moral vision actually requires seeing clearly the complex concrete realities on the ground, which includes seeing clearly that moral matters are often not "clear" in the simplistic sense. Having moral clarity in the simplistic sense can be dangerous, and not just academically. (Remember, for example, that Bush Jr. used, i.a., the rhetoric of moral clarity to sell his 2003 invasion of Iraq to the American public.)

Some concrete complexities that seem relevant and worth noting:

(1) Signing things.

For various reasons (some mentionable, some not), the written word has far less weight in Chinese society than it does in Western societies. (This remains the case even though it has gained some weight in some contexts.) It's probably a good idea for Westerners (considering) working in China not to put too much weight on the written word, including in particular signatures on contracts. The contracts all contain some formulaic government-speak, but whether you put your signature to that stuff is generally not taken very seriously, including by the government. In general, personal trust matters far more than formal contracts.

(2) Speaking of personal trust, one should be aware that there might be informants among the students or people looking like students. It is obviously important to be able to tell or at least have a good guess, and this requires discernment, patience, and sometimes courageous leaps of faith in others.

(3) Remember that cameras are now everywhere and everywhen, including in classrooms.

D

I am technically not a Chinese national, but I am ethnically Chinese & spent most of my childhood in China. TBH, I am quite ashamed of my decision of staying in a western democracy and not returning to China, especially because I hold a foreign passport & don't have to fear government prosecution as much as Chinese nationals.

It's really a shock to see some of the commenters here consider professing in China as morally unacceptable. There is so much you can do that could help your students to see the world outside of what the government wants them to see, without putting yourself to jail/losing your job, especially when you are white & with a US passport.

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