Vital Signs

Thinking About Internment

I am going to ask what Churchill would have called some naughty questions, and offer some impertinent answers. I apologize in advance for the extreme political incorrectness of what follows. In the hope of persuading the reader that I raise these issues with no pleasure at all, I shall preface them with some personal notes. I am a British citizen, lawfully resident in the United States. I became eligible to apply for naturalization six months ago, but have not yet done so—partly from sloth, partly from a dislike of dealing with government agencies, partly from a lingering sentimental attachment to my own country. My wife—who has applied for naturalization—is a citizen of mainland China; her father is a member of the Chinese Communist Party. Our two children are, as they are already tired of being told, half English coal miner, half Chinese peasant, 100 percent American. Most of our friends (along with my current boss, and three of the people who report to me) are mainland Chinese or Taiwanese.

Now let us proceed. The questions I want to address are: hi the increasingly thinkable event of a war between China and the United States, what can be said about the loyalties of (a) Chinese nationals in the United States, (b) Taiwanese nationals in the United States, and (c) people of the Chinese race (I am translating here precisely from the commonplace Chinese term han-zu) born and raised in the United States? Supposing...

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