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Mistrust and the Hunt for Spies Among Chinese Americans

Ties to China doom applicants’ security clearances more than to any other country.

Wei Su, photographed at home in Maryland.

Wei Su, photographed at home in Maryland.

Photographer: Greg Kahn for Bloomberg Businessweek

For days after his FBI interrogation, Wei Su wondered: Where had the microphone been?

The agents had played him a scratchy recording of a conversation he’d had with a friend at a restaurant in Eatontown, N.J. Both men found it strange when a pot of hot tea arrived at their table without their having ordered it, but only later did Su, an award-winning scientist for the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, form a hypothesis. He thinks the teapot was bugged.