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  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 2:03pm
Edward Snowden
NewsChina

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

hongkiejj@malaysiaboleh
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...
chanyellowgreen
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?
sudouest
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 !
clc2
"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."
This may be true as far as it goes. But only that far.
There remains a distinct Hong Kong relationship with the United States which has been damaged. HK people and companies are treated more favorably by the U.S government than people and businesses from the mainland. Why? This is not good timing.
There's also the issue for multi-nationals of where to put regional HQs. If HK's unelected Chinese governor will simply do as he is told by people in Zhongnanhai without questioning, then why not locate in Shanghai and really be in China? If security is an issue, then why not go to SG?
Even if Snowdon was held in HK and his claims about U.S. government activities investigated, people everywhere could respect that. But that's not what occurred. I think that a Chief Executive elected by the people of HK would have been much more forthright about protecting the interests of HK people and, just as critically, been seen to be more forthright.
Certainly HK is part of China and the nation has interests that overide HK's in the last analysis, but that's in the last analysis -- not the first round of discussions. That U.S. government officials are attacking the HK authorities more than national officials isn't for show. They mean it.
VicSexton
I'm no 'analyst' but I think I could have figured this one out for myself. Good luck Edward!
sudouest
Snowden had Wikileaks help to fly out. Is China with Wikileaks ?
leormac
China outsmarting the US.... experts say??? is that really a headline?!
johnrai7
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.
KwunTongBypass
Right on! Just came back from a dai pai dong chow fan instead of a Big Mac!
clc2
Your perspective might change if part of the Central, Admiralty or Wanchai districts were at risk for an explosion caused by a basketball-sized tactical nuclear weapon or its biological or chemical equivalent. That's not likely. The primary targets for Islamic religious fanatics are New York, Washington D.C. and London -- not Hong Kong.
To prevent attacks, investigators need data. Lots more of it than they thought was necessary before 11 September 2001.
The fact that the police authority can be misused is not new. Right now, the authorities in HK have the ability to do to you anything that they want at any time. Including shooting you and your family if they were so inclined. The reason that they don't is that there are layers of process to prevent that -- which layers exist in HK but no so much on the mainland or the places where the precious Mr. Snowden, the data administrator who violated so many rules to steal his data, will wind up.
That there is more data accumulated and stored than anyone can comprehend is certainly not a welcome development, but its potential abuse can be controlled by layers of process -- which process is a work in progress. There isn't much choice when the consequences of missing a terrorist plot are so high.
An attack also puts a U. S. President where he doesn't want to be -- sending a missile to kill lots of people in retaliation.
Their efforts leave you safe to be a drama queen.

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