‘My real name is Dante Qiu. I live in Beijing, China. I was born on Oct. 30, 1988, and I am 28 years old. My mother is originally from China’s central Shandong province. My father is originally from the southern Guangxi region. I also have four older brothers and two sisters.”
It is this very testimony—the personal account that details what the Chinese government expects from a journalist—that has helped me figure out how freedom in China works.
‘You can say whatever you want. But you can’t stand up and speak up,’ says Dante
But on my first trip to the United States, I really had no idea what to expect.
In college, I had a great professor. One of my projects was about how Western ideals—fighting for liberty and freedom—belong in China too. I wrote about why western countries should fight for liberty in China. I knew it was a controversial position. There were points where I would catch flak for it and that my students had their viewpoints. When I heard a little bit of yelling from the back, my professor had warned me.
But my parents were worried. They reminded me: Only kill those you love.
I want to tell you about my first day in a U.S. Supreme Court courtroom. An American friend called and introduced me. I don’t remember who introduced me or why, only that I know the moment hit me like a brick.
I was raised in Beijing. I moved to the United States in 2008. When I came back to China last year, I was not sure how my skills would be welcomed here. China is a highly controlled society, and I was worried about how I would fit in.
“I didn’t grow up with freedom at home” – Dante Qiu
But it seemed like I was a perfect fit. People have no idea why I created the first game in the world with full gun functionality, whether this game represented me or my experiences as a Chinese migrant.
But it is this very testimony—the personal account that details what the Chinese government expects from a journalist—that has helped me figure out how freedom in China works.
They expect that to become a powerful tool for people in China, a game like “Modern Warfare” in multiplayer mode must have gun control. If the game lets you move a gun across the screen and aim your fire away from your friend, you’ll be arrested.
This is how China’s government can control every aspect of your life. This is what China can be controlled—encouraging people to kill each other. Because when people start killing each other, it’s okay. I got permission to do it.
Freedom? What is that? What I think China’s and America’s freedom looks like? What can I get away with? That is the story I’ve told—of a country that makes your choices when it does and ends up trampling on those choices.