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  • Jul 10, 2014
  • Updated: 9:57pm
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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sudouest
Snowden had Wikileaks help to fly out. Is China with Wikileaks ?
the sun also rises
China played a low-key at the beginning and during the saga of Mr.Snowden but behind the scene, she might have instructions to our SAR administration which was worried about this hot potato--the fugitive of the US which top secrets were revealed by him while staying here as an ordinary tourist holding a US passport but hasn't broken our law.He was wanted by the US but the formal request of him to be extradited did not come until days after his first revelations ! How idiotic this Obama administration looks in the eyes of the public (especailly the netizens) of the world ! Then Snowden left in a hurry and normally to Russia---a country not so friendly with America without being known by the agents sent here from the US.He was not stopped from leaving here since his arrest warrant documents had to be studied before our cops could arrest him ! How inefficient the Obama administration was---------making Snowden's passport invalid but not informing our Immigration Dept.which had no record of his not allowing to depart for not owning a valid passport. Was it absurd ?
leormac
China outsmarting the US.... experts say??? is that really a headline?!
the sun also rises
As Professor Shen Dingli said,China also lost face in the outcome of the Snowden case by letting/asking him to leave Hong Kong.As this guy tells China and Hong Kong how the US has threatened them.China should care for him, to host him (in Hong Kong where he should be well-protected).But instead,to not letting the Sino-American relationship to worsen,Hong Kong,the host has to ask (with instructions from Beijing) this nice guest (with huge contributions to our national interest and the security of Hong Kong as well------the cybersecurity of our computer systems at Chinese Univ.and elsewhere) to leave the territory as soon as possible instead of letting him stay here and fight against the extradition request that is to come---------since Snowden said he had placed his trust on Hong Kong people and our 'rule of law' and freedom of speech.But now he is far from us and is still running for his life safety ! We should be ashamed for our act maybe !
blue
Ultimately it was up to Snowden. He was given the "nudge" to leave by being tipped off about the fact that he'll be safe if he leaves. Snowden could have stayed and fought the extradition, but that was more risky. Leaving HK was a pragmatic decision. HK came off looking pretty good to be honest.

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