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  • Aug 24, 2014
  • Updated: 3:16am
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?
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.
Carioca no Coracao
second that. this is above hongkong's pay grade.
chanyellowgreen
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.
jenniepc
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
the sun also rises
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 !
KwunTongBypass
Right on! Just came back from a dai pai dong chow fan instead of a Big Mac!
johnwe
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.
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!
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.
DREGstudios
Snowden is a hero and a patriot in my book. We live in an age where the civil liberties our forefathers fought so hard for are being eroded by the day. Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are mere ghostly images of their original intent. We’ve woken up to an Orwellian Society of Fear where anyone is at the mercy of being labeled a terrorist for standing up for rights we took for granted just over a decade ago. Read about how we’re waging war against ourselves at ****dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html
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.

siulun2050
Like sending a missile that killed people you are not supposed to be fighting, like the Chinese embassy in the former Yugoslavia
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.
the sun also rises
From what you said,you are not smarter than the Obama administration which has been described in this Comment column by his fellow Americans as a buffoon (clown) administration whose intelligence and efficiency in exerting a policy/task is poor enough-----charged Snowden with espionage crime but never informed our Immigration Dept.about the invalidity of his American passport that Mr.Snowden could use it to leave Hong Kong for Moscow ! What a farce ! This Obama administration appears no better than his predecessor--the Bush administration which started two wars at the same time in the Middle East which cost the Americans at home much, not to say the loss of lives and international image ! Now this Snowden further disclosed the dark sides of this No.1 power---hypocrisy and double standard in its safeguard of human rights and liberty plus cyber-security.!
musca999
It is a big chess game isn't it? My questions are:
1) Why Hong Kong (18hr flight)? Why not any other nearby sympathetic country?
2) Why aren't we hearing more of his so-called "intelligence"?
ramsay
How embarassing for Hong Kong.
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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