Connie Mei Pickart is a naturalized American citizen from China. When she returned to China four years ago, she expected to reconnect with her old friends and classmates in deep and meaningful ways — or short of that, at least to reintegrate into the society of her birth country.
But with each conversation about sensitive issues such as Xinjiang, the Hong Kong protests, and racism in Chinese society, Pickart found herself being picked on, disparaged, and eventually ostracized from her Chinese companions. She writes about the experience in a sharply observed essay on SupChina called “Nationalism ruined my Chinese friendships”:
As China’s social environment becomes increasingly stringent, nationalism seems the only currency to prove one’s devotion to the country. Any criticism, either from within or beyond the borders, is deemed deviant or malicious.