• Thu
  • Oct 16, 2014
  • Updated: 8:00pm
Edward Snowden

Beijing made decision on Edward Snowden leaving Hong Kong, say analysts

Sino-US experts say Hong Kong did not have the power to determine if Edward Snowden could fly out, as it involved national security

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 3:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 7:26am

Beijing interceded to allow whistle-blower Edward Snowden's dramatic flight from Hong Kong, calculating that infuriating the United States for now was necessary to prevent deeper corrosion in their relationship, analysts and media said yesterday.

And Beijing exploited the cyberspying revelations to put the US on the back foot. State media called Washington a villain for its alleged hacking of Chinese targets, when the United States has long portrayed itself as a victim of Chinese cybersnooping.

The Hong Kong government insisted that its decision to let the 30-year-old Snowden fly out on Sunday was governed strictly by the law, after a provisional US arrest warrant purportedly failed to meet its judicial requirements.

But for many observers, such a high-profile case - carrying the potential to destabilise Sino-US ties for years if Snowden had fought a lengthy legal battle in Hong Kong - must have provoked intense interest among the city's overseers.

Professor Shen Dingli, director of American studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University, said he believed the decision leading to Snowden's departure was definitely made by the central government in Beijing.

"For such a vital national security interest, how can Hong Kong decide by itself? If we want to have good US-China relations, it benefits China to have let Snowden leave", he said.

"Hong Kong does not have the power to decide upon a significant matter like this. The announcement made by the Foreign Ministry on Monday was just rhetoric, as Beijing wouldn't want to claim the responsibility for making the final decision to let Snowden go."

China's Foreign Ministry on Monday sidestepped allegations that it orchestrated Snowden's departure, which infuriated Washington after it had requested his arrest and extradition.

Spokeswoman Hua Chunying refused to directly comment on the affair at a regular press briefing in Beijing, or provide details on any role Beijing played in Snowden's flight to Moscow on Sunday.

"The central government of China always respects the Hong Kong SAR government's handling of the relevant case," she said, referring reporters to Hong Kong's statement on Sunday which said he departed through "legal and normal means".

Niu Jun , a professor of international relations at Peking University, agreed that Beijing must have been involved in Snowden's departure "to a certain degree", because Hong Kong wouldn't deal with a diplomatic case like this "without the instructions of Beijing".

"However, the Snowden case won't affect the Sino-US relationship in the long run, as long as Beijing doesn't get involved too deeply in it," Niu said. "Now that Beijing has already let Snowden go, it won't be a problem."

Zha Daojiong, an international relations professor at Peking University, said: "His departure removes a potential long-term problem in the wider relationship, whatever short-term anger is expressed from the US."

Reuters quoted a source in Beijing, who has ties to the leadership, as saying China was repaying a debt by avoiding an extradition stand-off. The US refused asylum for Wang Lijun , disgraced vice-mayor and police chief of Chongqing who sought refuge in a US consulate last year in a scandal that later brought down his boss Bo Xilai .

"This is China returning the [US] favour," the source said.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters



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This article is now closed to comments

President Obama did not fully excise his power or even bother to personally get involved in Snowden simply because he knows he has done dreadfully wrong against his inner belief. He knows he has violated the core of the constitution and against what he stands for before he got elected and even after he got elected. Transparency, the rule of law, freedom of speech...etc...etc...
Imagine a personal call to President Xi....maybe or maybe not but likely, China may or may not oblige to his request, I leave that to all to conclude the finale.
All this finger pointing and blame game from USA is nothing but a charade for their public.
Obama was selected for the Nobel prize award for a reason or variety of reasons. This is not why he was selected.
Makes a mockery out of the Nobel prize award and I bet those guys that selected him is having nightmares.
Maybe I am wrong...
Which government will not get nervous, when the Big Brother is threatening you to hand in Snowden. They are the super super power which nobody can offend.
Imagine if Hong Kong was still under the British rule, UK would have arrested Snowden right away and surrendered him to Big Brother without a single second of hesitation or delay. If UK also has to act like a poodle to Uncle Sam, who else dare to do otherwise?
So did HK Govt. consulted with Beijing and asked Snowden to leave as Beijing was getting nervous?
Sure this is going to be a mystery.... unless HK Govt brief us. Only Snowden can figure this out.
Carioca no Coracao
second that. this is above hongkong's pay grade.
We should not blame Hong Kong government. We are just a small city, and too weak in every aspect to go against the Big Brother.
China could help, and in fact i think they did. But they can only do it from behind, not openly. Otherwise some other people or countries will accuse China to interfere Hong Kong's affairs.
It is very clear that Big Brother thinks they are ruling the whole world.
Again, China does need or train people or media how to fight back unfounded accusations. If I have not fought back, posted in US major media including SCMP and NYT to ask US providing the evidences for his accusations of China cyber-attacks, then the false accusations would have become true if the United States has repeatedly accused China of cyber attacks. Again, I am not taking sides and my comments are always based on the facts. it is not the world best interest if there is a conflict between US and China.
It don’t matter who, Hong Kung or Central government, handles Mr. Edward Snowden incidents. I think that the Snowden’s incidents handle very well. Again, the prosecution of Mr. Edward Snowden with violating espionage laws under the Espionage Act is very questionable. Mr. Snowden is more whistle-blower than espionage as US has claimed. US First Amendment, one which is broad, progressive and encompasses almost any manner of expression. However, it seems to me if speech runs counter to the needs and actions of a government, said speech is deemed non-protected and in violation of Espionage Act.
America has had a long history of providing asylums to all sorts of corrupt officials. I should remind our government that we have provided a safe heaven for those most Asian or African corruptive officials. Any forms of corruptions are no different from normal criminals, it does not matter if it is bribery, extortion or drug traf****.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 04/28/13 美國
hard times !
According to the editorial of today's local Chinese language newspaper,Ming Pao Daily(a paper read by local intellectuals and those overseas Chinese),we Hongkongers who are the victims of the cybersurveillance acts committed by the National Security Agency of America led by Obama and his National Intelligence Committee are now being threatened that we 'will be taught a lesson' for so-called,'releasing' the fugitive whistle-blower,Mr. Edward Snowden (our benefactor actually).We are awaiting the' punishment' but will never give in ! As all know, American companies used to earn lots of money from Hong Kong------- the numerous McDonald's outlets (the most money-earning ones in the world),KFCs,Pizza Huts,fruits from Califonia and Washington state; Cokes and our visitors to America plus America's banks:Citibank and its credit cards and her insurance companies ,investment banks and ....Once we are punished economically by sanction or other measures,we Hongkongers might probably boycott US goods and services, it is for sure !
Right on! Just came back from a dai pai dong chow fan instead of a Big Mac!
Serve the US right for their two-faced realpolitiks. I couldn't care two hoots what Feinstein or Schumer thinks or is convinced about. They are from different parties but of the same ilk i.e. ultra-conservative.
I also don't think China lost face - only faux democrats who invent imaginary 'reasons' or do violence in writing or on the streets for their living, will draw that conclusion.
Why should Hong Kong or China host and protect another potential trouble-maker like the blind Chen did with NYU? These types are trouble whichever side you are on; all they care about is the headlines and they hope, a sinecure for life.
No hope here - perhaps he could work at a MacDonalds on minimum wages or in a Wanchai ro Shamshuipo IT outlet. Look at what happened to those high-profile 1989 U students who fled to the US.
It's for the better that Snowden leaves. HK-US treaty will eventually bite through anyway. Plus, once they revoke his passport, he will have nowhere to go. China has optimised to the best outcome: Let him leave before legal aspects set in, let him continue announcing info on PRISM on other's soil without political concerns, and returning favour of Wang Lijun means China can have a bigger voice with US from now on. It's a thumbs up, considering all the timing of his flight, to Wikileaks help, to all the confusions when he landed in Moscow, to everything in between !




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