30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian.
Beijing wants Hong Kong to handle Snowden on its own, party newspapers suggest
Commentary suggests Hong Kong should follow public opinion on Snowden
In a commentary in response to the Snowden case, the People's Daily said yesterday that Chinese were always unwilling to get involved in other people's "mess".
The Communist Party mouthpiece also rejected suggestions by some US politicians that cybersecurity whistle-blower Edward Snowden could be a spy for China, calling it a groundless accusation that had added "a cloud to the clear sky of the Sino-US relationship".
Another party newspaper, the Global Times, said in a commentary yesterday that Hong Kong should follow public opinion in handling the case, not worry about Sino-US relations and "be more spontaneous".
Professor Liu Jianming, a communication studies specialist at Tsinghua University, said both articles suggested that Beijing did not want to get further involved in the case.
"China is taking its usual position of not intervening in other countries' affairs, but it cannot ignore verbal attacks that have twisted the truth," he said.
The People's Daily said "the Prism scandal was America's trouble in the first place", but some US politicians were trying to "create a new link between China and the scandal with their own imagination" by hinting that Snowden was a Chinese spy.
It said such a link was "nonsense" and Beijing should ask the "big mouths" to shut up. "Pouring dirty water on China shows how American politicians are embarrassed and anxious," it said.
The Global Times asked the Hong Kong government to "interact with public opinion directly" in making its choice when an extradition request was made by the United States.
"Dealing with the Snowden case properly may be strategically meaningful for Hong Kong's future" it said, because it might broaden connotations of "political liberty".
Jin Canrong , a US affairs expert from Renmin University, said both commentaries implied a basic principle of the central government - not letting the scandal affect overall Sino-US relations.
He said the Global Times, represented more of the people's views in its commentary. Professor Shi Yinhong , an international relations specialist at Renmin University, said he believed "the central government will not intervene until it's absolutely necessary".