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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 6:01am
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

caractacus
China outsmarted the US? Hardly. China got rid of this hot potato as soon as it worked out that it spelled trouble.
Snowden is a fool, albeit his motives were probably initially honest and well meaning. He has abandoned his country and fallen into the clutches of far more ruthless governments and individuals who will use him for their own purposes until they tire of him and relinquish him to the wolves.
ramsay
How embarassing for Hong Kong.
Carioca no Coracao
second that. this is above hongkong's pay grade.
ianson
Two parts to the puzzle: the legal extradition process and the executive-led Immigration Department border control. While the former looks to have been handled to the letter of the law by RImsky Yuen and his people, the Immigration Department would certainly have stepped in and prevented Snowden's departure if it had received orders from on high. It didn't, and that's where Beijing played a role.
siulun2050
Like sending a missile that killed people you are not supposed to be fighting, like the Chinese embassy in the former Yugoslavia

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