Foreign Policy Digital

How to Speak Out and Stay Hidden in Hong Kong

Protest veterans have developed new tactics—but so have the police.

It was a surprise to discover I worked for the CIA. As a large white man in the Hong Kong protests, I certainly stood out from the crowd, where the overwhelming majority of the million-plus participants were locals of Chinese descent who took to the streets against an extradition bill that could send dissidents into the maw of mainland power. But my presence was enough to get pro-Beijing operatives to distribute a picture of me labeled as “CIA spy.” That spirit of paranoia is now being echoed at the top, where Beijing officials are accusing the United States of being the “meddling foreign forces” behind the Hong Kong protests.

But the protests were driven by locals—including the odd American-born Hong Konger such as me, having become a veteran of protest on

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