China, a Bad Bet?

International Schools in China are dominating upcoming virtual Recruiting Fairs, practically outnumbering schools from all other countries, combined. Is this simply because China has more International Schools? Maybe not…

In the words of an ISR member:   China is becoming more belligerent. Teachers over there are included in the Communist Party’s massive database to say whether or not you’re a ‘good’ citizen. Scary. Arbitrary arrests without trial or reason are common. Do you think the UK or US would be bothered about a teacher, especially if the Chinese added some ‘sexual safeguarding’ concerns to their charge sheet? With a 99% conviction rate, a malicious parent with an issue against you could get you locked up, convicted of a sexual offence.

“This couldn’t happen to me” is an unrealistic attitude. International Educators on the circuit for some years are all too familiar with the case of Neil Bantleman, an International Educator in Indonesia who spent 5 years in an Indonesian prison after being falsely accused of sexual misconduct by a local, influential parent. EU, US and citizens of other countries are NOT exempt from what life may bring in a foreign country. Fact is, they may be seen as a prize to be paraded in front of the cameras.

China’s new “security” policies enacted in June, 2020 give unprecedented powers to the government. The US and UK, as a result, updated travel advisories. The State Department of the US has warned that Beijing is enacting a propaganda campaign to “falsely” accuse US citizens of “fomenting unrest in Hong Kong.”

Is one or more of the many International School in China soliciting for teachers on your radar? If so, ISR strongly encourages you read the attached Article. There may be more than just the Coronavirus causing International Educators to give China a pass.

US & UK warn travelers of risk of arbitrary arrest in China & Hong Kong

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49 thoughts on “China, a Bad Bet?

  1. Seriously, for those who defend China, just think about the human rights abuses and the plight of the Uighars, Falun Gong, the Tibetans, student protestors, racism towards Africans… and I could go on and on………morally, should you really be teaching there?

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  2. @pleez
    I have never spent any time in China and I never would. However, I have known numerous Chinese citizens during my periods of expatriation, and they all struck me as thoroughly brainwashed. I particularly remember a futile discussion I once had with a Chinese woman in Germany who insisted that the Dalai Lama was an evil “splittist.” People who live under a totalitarian dictatorship that practices ethnic cleansing do not interest me in the least.

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    1. I had a similar experience where a Chinese co-teacher, while teaching a Tibetan story to the kids, insisted that Tibet is and always was part of China. When I said it used to be an independent country it just didn’t register at all.

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    2. Does it really matter what Chinese believe about Tibet? Who cares! I’m assuming Anon and dimasdolben are Westerners and therefore enjoy all the benefits of colonization. I’m from America, which was just one big land grab then cultivated by 400 years of slavery. Would you two feel better if the Chinese said, like Reagan said about Hawaii, that they stole Tibet fair and square? What difference does it really make what the Chinese believe? They are are a superpower and way too big to be pushed around. Deal with it.

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    3. I am one of the many education professionals who left China. To be honest it is not only expats in education who have left or who are trying leave China. Even expats who have been in China for years, even decades, have left in droves. It all comes down to a combination of new Chinese government restrictions and laws like the Social Credit Score; propaganda started by the Chinese government and spread by its network of paid by the internet post ‘net citizens’ stating that foreigners are the root of all evils in China; the risk of arrest for breaking the law by saying anything against the Chinese government; the blatant invasion of privacy through all forms of digital communication, spy equipment in apartments, etc., the ability to find a foreigner within 7 seconds anywhere in cities as large as 25 million people; the Chinese government being in complete control of your Chinese bank account and limiting the amount of money you can send home or spend outside of China; false accusations by parents of students, false accusations by the ‘granny or auntie police’… really false accusations by any Chinese person at any age leading to a whole host of issues including jail, prison or deportation; and the current belief of international and local academic schools that they have the right to completely do whatever they please as they do know they can accuse you of anything they wish to if you cause them any hassles and stand up for yourself. So your pay, your housing, your contract, your money, your visa, your escape route, your future, and your life are all at risk. (I speak from experience as the school I was at cheated me out of $12,000 worth of pay.) These only scratch the surface. You can add in the racial discrimination against anyone foreign. There is also the big Chinese government push to rid the country of foreign teachers and to replace them with millions of Chinese citizens who studied abroad but have returned to China and can only find very low paying jobs. There are many reasons for the mass exodus from China, COVID was and is only one more reason.

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    4. @ Dolphin 9

      I don’t even know where to begin addressing all the crap you just splattered against the page – it’s nonsense. The single bit of crap though that stands out most of all – expats leaving China in droves. Once again, a sinophobe stands truth on its head. In fact, teachers are clamoring to get back in. If there were to be droves, it would be if China reopened their boarders; then you would see teachers and admin and everyone trying to get a seat at the table, because it really is a feast here in China.

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  3. Something that I haven’t seen anyone mention is that the usual perks of working in China are significantly lessened this year. Many people take China jobs to save a bunch of money and travel. But this year, and for the indefinite future, you can’t travel outside of China or expect to visit home. All of my colleagues who I have worked with in China usually take 3-4 major international vacations a year and you can’t expect to do that now. I frankly don’t think the situation for foreigners inside of China has changed all that much over the last few years, but unless your sole motivation is to save money or you’re particularly interested in living there, there aren’t many other reasons to take a job there right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How did they take so much leave? You get a break during Chinese New Year and, if not doing summer school, a few weeks in the summer.

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    2. @ Tommy You get October break for 1 week, Christmas break, Chinese Lunar New Year, and Easter break if you are at a school that keeps an international calendar. We also had to work all of June and report back in early August so more total teaching days in contract at 205 than in many other places. Our workday was also 9 hours long.

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  4. I used to work in Qingdao. I left this summer because I wanted to return to Europe and Brexit meant this was likely to become much harder in the future. If it were not for Brexit I would have been very happy to stay there. I felt safer in China than I ever did in Kuwait, or indeed the UK. There is a lot of nonsense spoken about China by people who have never been there and get their information from the man0boy imbecile Trump and Fox news. Much of what is written here is ill informed and xenophobic and ISR should feel ashamed at publishing it. I shall not be renewing my membership.

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    1. @ James. While street crime is rare in China, the level of control they have over you is not exaggerated. This article is truth. I know because I lived there and saw with my own eyes.

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  5. I’ve worked in three Chinese international schools and one international international school over the past 20 years and find this article in bad form as well. If you’re a professional and abide by your host country laws, you’ll be fine. If you don’t, well, the days of post-Opium Wars extraterritoriality are long over. You’re no longer special.

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    1. Any American who works in an international school in China right now has to be a blithering idiot. The Chinese government, who have enormously more control over their populace than any Western democracy’s government has, is ferociously angry with the United States, and WILL retaliate against any expression of opinion that might be CONSTRUED as “radical” in the Chinese context. All of my life, I have engaged in philosophical and political dialogue with others, and know full well that that is my engrained habit, and that it would not be permitted in China.

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    2. @ dismasdolben

      It’s a good thing you left China–for the Chinese. I’m sure they’ll miss your all-caps, insult-strewn, all-answers-and-no-questions, perfectly American brand of “philosophy.” See you on Facebook, and enjoy your Covid Freedom parties back in the States!

      Liked by 1 person

    3. What does 20 years ago have to do with today, as though things have not changed? Is genocide a thing of the past? When they come for you, who will be left to champion your willingness to shut up, toe the party line and look the other way? Abide by your host countries laws? Have you any idea of your host countries laws? China does not even follow its own laws and prosecutes lawyers who attempt to defend Chinese citizens under those laws. Go ahead. Still in China? Post any comment on WeChat critical in any way of the CCP. Be sure to include your name and your school’s name (how much faith do you have in your VPN?) and find out how quickly you will become “special”. If ignorance is bliss. I am assuming you are quite happy, until that is you start being concerned about someone other than yourself.

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  6. Lived in china for 3 years, never been happier than when I signed a contract elsewhere and knew there was finally an end to it. I was discriminated for being a female, for being a foreigner, my own school (a VERY well known one in the whole country) nearly cost me my life – but they wouldn’t even apologize, much less impose any consequences on the local male chinese staff member… Somehow his face was more important than my LIFE. About 80% of the foreigners I know (regardless of the branch they were in) were already looking to move out of china well over a year ago, and the pandemic has only made things much worse (yes, it is true that they were presenting imported cases as the fault of foreigners even though they’ve long since been banned from the county). The xenophobic sentiment has been encouraged by the CCP any which way you turn (according to ling-timers in china, since 2012, and it’s only been getting progressively worse), and I hated every second of it. The only way you can still have a somewhat good time there is if you’re a white guy, preferably blonde and with blue eyes. And no, I’m not American. These aren’t opinions, these are hard facts.

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  7. From someone living in China – a really awful, illogical article, which reads like something written by one of Trump’s advisors. The change in advice by the US in particular is simply because of the deterioration in political relationships between the US and China – so if anyone is to be blamed for this, blame Trump! Yes, I’m aware of what I can and can’t do or say – sometimes I have to find a freshly ploughed field to speak in – but it doesn’t really affect my day to day life as a teacher or otherwise.

    When you move to any country, you have to accept, or learn to accept, the culture of that country. There will be things about it which annoy you, and if that’s the case then move on.

    China is not a ‘bad bet’ for teachers. You have students who want to learn, and parents who want you to teach their child. Yes, there are some badly managed schools or schools whose primary objective is to make as much money for the owner as possible, but then these exist in other countries. Maybe teachers in Vietnam should watch out for explaining the US side of the war, or those in Thailand teaching why restricting comment on a key part of the state machinery is a bad thing, or teachers in the US trying to teach a balanced history of their country, or teachers in the UK trying to teach at all without constant government meddling. There are bits of China which I don’t like – but then, there are bits of my home country which I don’t like too.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I have lived and taught now in Hong Kong and Mainland China going on 21 years, and find most of these comments pathetic examples of “Sinophobia”. Never once have I felt unsafe or uncomfortable. Given the hostile views of the West in view of Covid 19 now, there is a possibility of this welcoming view changing in the years to come. Many Chinese in traveling abroad are subject to maltreatment by some ignoramus who blames them for spreading the virus. I have listened to some of my former students sharing these indignities with me. I am disappointed that an educational outlet would disseminate such trash,

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    1. As long as you are not a Weger or Falun Gong practitioner with the same blood type as some high ranking member of the CCP suffering a cirrhotic liver, or a human rights lawyer, outspoken journalist or student protester who doesn’t mind disappearing mysteriously some dark night and are able to amass enough social credits by condoning and supporting every and all actions of the government while turning a blind eye to everything except your own “good” fortune and feel good, then China could be the country for you.

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  9. I’m trying to sus out whether or not my comment was deleted for pointing out that this article failed to actually answer its own question about why there are so many Chinese schools at fairs, or if I just screwed up and didn’t hit post.

    So here we go again!

    This is poorly written article and a fairly unhelpful blog post. Aside from the fact that you could replace China with literally any country with an authoritarian ruling body and have the same end result, you never explained the connection between the representation of Chinese schools at fairs and everything that followed after that question.

    Just a solid D effort.

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  10. Six years teaching in China from Shanghai to Kunming. Many of the people I met were wonderful caring people. I could not however in good conscience continue to be part of a society ruled by a government that continues brutal, inhumane campaigns against Wegers, Falun Gong practitioners and even their own citizens. The hostage diplomacy they practice in international affairs and their increasing hostility to foreigners living and working in China should be enough to dissuade most foreigners from setting foot in China.

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    1. I know you can’t be American or you’d be returning to country that locks babies in cages, performs forced sterilizations, executes black men and women with impunity and has a Russian stooge running the country.

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  11. I’ve been in and out of China for 30 years now and all I can say about this article is what complete nonsense! I’ve never had any problems in China as a teacher and I don’t know of any teachers that have had problems in China. The idea that Chinese parents are to be feared is beyond nonsense, its standing truth upside down on its head. The truth is, American parents are confrontational and can be counted on to make a teachers life hell, whereas Chinese parents have always been supportive in my experience.

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    1. You are failing to take into account that a new set of laws have been put into place. So before you blatantly attempt to discredit the author of this article, as you no doubt try to do to teachers who dislike your authoritarian style of management, try following the link at the end of the article. Things have changed over the past 30 years. Ya think?

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    2. @Been There – I’m in China right now. I got back in JUST IN TIME and thank God – plenty of work, no Covid and all the freedoms I’ve enjoyed over the past 30 years. Don’t believe everything you read Been There. Try and get out more.

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  12. One of my favorite quotes of China is the following: “Everything you heard about China is true – somewhere in China” referring back to the size and diversity of the country itself. I am not as alarmist as some of those of the forum with China arresting random teachers due to political manipulation as we are small fry in the whole scheme of things. Unless you hold strong anti-CCP views which you mention a lot to local staff or plaster everywhere of social media – you will probably be fine.

    I have had friends removed from China related to Taiwan and Tibet which was not exactly their fault but how they were removed from China was brutal. Self censorship truly is a must and I won’t go into more detail on this as I don’t want to the incident to be widely known as it’s not my story to tell.

    From what I have heard, local schools have got back close to where they used to be before COVID in relation to student numbers, but lower tier schools and schools in secondary cities have lost significant numbers of expat students due to COVID and closed borders. Expat numbers were reducing since 2017 so this will just speed it up.

    The most fascinating part of the upcoming job season will be how people find jobs. There are a lot more people looking for jobs compared to previous years and a lot less jobs in other countries compared to normal. It will be interesting to see job turnover rates for locally managed schools in China and the ME who often do not run that well with foreign staff during normal times.

    I’ve worked in China in the past but will not in the future due to politics. I’ve seen how local media whips the locals into the frenzy and have seen how some of my previous students and families were treated poorly outside of the school due to their home country (Japan, South Korea, Philippines. I’ve also seen polar opposites in how people of African descent are treated both in the school and locally. I’ve heard of teachers and families or African descent treated extremely well along with terribly. Probably the worst treatment I’ve seen in China (and some other Asian countries) is towards Filipinos as they are normally seen as cleaners or entertainers.

    One interesting thing to see is what percentage of foreign staff in Chinese schools intend to stay in China or extend their stay. I’m aware of a few schools who made all foreign staff resign contract for the following year with reduced pay and some of the better schools offered non-renewal of previously signed contracts with no negative repercussions. Only time will tell.

    The only thing we know is that this topic will bring out the China and Anti-China Toadies…..

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  13. I lived in China for 10 years, left in July 2017, I still have friends teaching there. A couple of things strike me about this discussion, first that China seldom gets good press in the West so the image of China presented here by posters is no surprise. My Chinese friends there are some of the nicest, kindest, gentlest people I know. Second, although I haven’t discussed the current situation with them, they seem to be quite happy to stay.

    The Middle Kingdom was, is and always will be an enigma to Westerners, that’s part of the deal when you work there. They are particularly sensitive to how they are portrayed in Western media, for good reason. So when we went on a school trip and had to notify the PSB it wasn’t for them to spy on us but to make sure we were safe.

    And lastly I think that omgarsenal’s comment about international schools in Mexico and Kuwait recognises that arbitrary arrest isn’t a Chinese phenomenon but happens in many places. Try slandering the King in Thailand.

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  14. It’s also worth mentioning the arbitrary detention and exclusion of foreigners in the name of saving face over COVID-19 starting in China. I was there during that time. The CCP was suddenly trying to paint a picture that the foreigners started it. Overnight, businesses began discriminating against foreigners. Some foreigners were re-quarantined against their will, even if they’d already passed quarantine and hadn’t left. I heard from someone who was tested and when it was discovered that they had a rare blood type, a group of police showed up at their door “politely asking” for them to donate their blood. A random group of us at my school got a WeChat message at midnight telling us that a van would be coming for us the next morning to collect a blood test for COVID-19, even though we had all been through quarantine and tested negative multiple times (some of us up to 4 times!). We were told this was a government initiative and it was non-negotiable. Businesses everywhere had signs saying “no foreigners” and even places without signs wouldn’t let foreigners in. With tensions rising between China and the Western world, I would not be surprised to see these kinds of incidents on the rise. It’s also worth mentioning the overall instability of contracts in China right now. I was laid off in the middle of May from my school while I was still in the country. I very nearly got trapped with no flight out before my visa expired. I had the option to transfer to another school in China, but even that was starting to become shady with some schools laying teachers off and then refusing to transfer their visas to the new school if their numbers went up later in the summer. Many schools were also forcing remaining staff to re-sign new contracts (even if they already had signed contracts) giving up their rights to any severance or notice if the school decided they wanted to save money and cut a position immediately. Ultimately, I chose to leave…I couldn’t fathom signing up for that life for an additional two years. I realize everyone’s experiences are different, but mine was very bad and I don’t miss it at all. I didn’t feel safe or happy.

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    1. What absolute nonsense. I have lived in Beijing for nine years, never left during the Covid shutdown and felt far safer here than I would have back home in post-apocalyptic USA. I have never been discriminated against for being foreign, never saw signs saying no foreigners. Now, as in any country, you do have to be careful about the school, and many are dodgy at best. I’m lucky to be at a top-tier school. But that’s not China. That’s the school.

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    2. Not sure where this was but this didn’t happen in Shanghai or Beijing.

      Also, the visa wasn’t an issue since China offered visa extensions to everyone in March.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. It’s not nonsense…this was my real, lived experience in China. And no, this was not Shanghai or Beijing. The school wasn’t great, but neither was the city. Not all of the problems I faced were caused by the school. I was refused entry to multiple tourist sites in the city because I was foreign (well after the border had closed). Many bars, restaurants, and clubs refused to allow foreigners in, even though they were open to locals. When I tried to enter my apartment complex after completing the hotel quarantine – negative COVID tests results in hand – multiple Chinese families were screaming at the security guards to not let us in because they thought we were carrying the virus. They didn’t let us in for almost an hour. I’m glad your experience was better than mine, but that does not in any way make my experience invalid or untrue.

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  15. Not just China. Several years ago in Guatemala a student falsely accused a teacher of inappropriate touching (this was the last person you would imagine something like this to happen to). They were gone the following weekend but the harassment followed them to their home in the US which forced them to remove their Facebook account and eliminate all contacts with friends and go incognito. Since it was in the middle of the school year they were without a job for the rest of the year had several tense months. Their next job turned out to be their favorite of their career so it turned out OK for them but it was a very stressful year.

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    1. All these neighing and snorting about China, yet like the poster said, Guatemala was an American Gulag for 40 years and, if you get in the crosshairs of a local oligarch, you’d be lucky to leave the place in one piece. But keep barking at your own reflection, fellas…

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  16. China screens for good Party ‘loyalists’ and anti-American sentiments. They especially like history teachers who say American history is nothing but racism and slavery, and that this is all anti-China also. Yell white supremacists and Nazis and do well in China.

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    1. So how exactly would they screen the hundreds of teachers that apply to work there for their ‘anti-American’ sentiments and ‘party loyalty’? Clearly you know something that most of us don’t. Care to share? 😂

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  17. Waiting for anyone whose actually lived there to chime in…

    Particularly, if you scour the Internet there’s a exactly one example of a teacher being railroaded over sexual assault you can find in China.

    Assuming you’re not working as a journalist or for an ngo your biggest risk of arbitrary arrest as a teacher comes from testing positive for drugs in or your employer getting up to visa shadiness.

    Obviously the government has huge problems and China is no place to live long term. But for a young teacher it can be a fun place to save some money.

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    1. Surge in cases of Foreign Teachers Arrested in China – Good try to discredit the author, Mister School Director. https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2019-08-12/class-dismissed-surge-in-arrests-of-foreign-teachers-in-china
      “BEIJING, August 13 (Reuters) – Arrests and deportations of foreign teachers in China have soared this year, lawyers, schools and teachers say, amid a broad crackdown defined by new police tactics and Beijing’s push for a “cleaner”, more patriotic education system.”

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  18. ISR, bad form. Citing common arbitrary arrests in China (utterly untrue) and using an example from Indonesia- this is just one way that this article is inflammatory and misleading. Bad, bad form.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My guess you are a school owner or administrator in China. You sound like Trump tell the American public that the virus will just go away while over 200,000 have died.

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    2. Just ONE example. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2179941/china-releases-canadian-teacher-sarah-mciver-who-was-arrested
      There are more, if you just look. I know people don’t want to believe bad things about China because our friends there, our CHINESE friends are lovely wonderful people. But their government is not. And thanks to the new law they passed, I can be subject to arrest just for saying this even though I am in another country now. If you go there thinking, “If I don’t do anything wrong, I’m golden”, you’re just sticking your head in the sand.

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  19. This is true of almost every country offering employment opportunities to expats. I worked in Mexico and Kuwait, where a mean-spirited parent could get you fired, or in some cases expelled from the country for whatever ¨motive¨ appealed to them. There was no appeal in Kuwait and in Mexico a careless accusation would get you in hot water with the authorities as well. Schools rarely would go to bat for you in either country and there is always that sword of Damocles hanging over your head, except in Europe and some more liberal Asian countries.

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  20. Several years ago I chaperoned a field trip to China; my students were international, at my school in Korea. I have taught in six other countries, plus my home in the US. I have never been as afraid of arbitrary arrest, never as conscious of surveillance, as I was on this trip in China. The usual advice holds even more strongly: foreigners, be particularly wary of a school with local management.

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