• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 4:05am
Edward Snowden

China and US wage war of words over Snowden's flight from Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 June, 2013, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 June, 2013, 5:31am

China rebuked the United States on Tuesday for accusing it of facilitating the flight of fugitive US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, and said suggestions that it had done so were “baseless and unacceptable”.

The remarks from the Chinese foreign ministry and earlier comments from state media have underscored the strain in ties between the two countries since Snowden, who is wanted by the US government on charges of espionage, fled Hong Kong on Sunday.

The White House said the decision by the Chinese territory to allow Snowden to leave was “a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant, and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the US-China relationship”.

China rejected the accusation.

The US side has no reason to call into question the Hong Kong government’s handling of affairs
Chinese Foreign Ministry

“The US side has no reason to call into question the Hong Kong government’s handling of affairs [which were done] according to law,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing. “The United States’ criticism of China’s central government is baseless. China absolutely cannot accept it.”

Hua also defended the Hong Kong government’s decision to let Snowden go, saying it “handled the relevant case completely according to law.

“This is beyond dispute. All parties should respect this.”

Experts on both sides however said the tirade should quickly blow over, and that neither country would be keen to let ties deteriorate permanently just weeks after a successful summit meeting between President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping.

“China does not want this to affect the overall situation, the central government has always maintained a relatively calm and restrained attitude because Sino-US relations are important,” said Zhao Kejing, a professor of international relations at China’s elite Tsinghua University.

“The United States has no reason to exert greater pressure; otherwise, it would lose moral support.”

Kenneth Lieberthal, a China expert at the Brookings Institution who was an Asia adviser in Bill Clinton’s White House, said sanctioning Beijing was “inconceivable” and linking Snowden to other issues would undo careful policy aimed at handling issues in separate lanes to avoid big ruptures in ties.

The US has gone from a ’model of human rights’ to ’an eavesdropper on personal privacy’
People's Daily

“Over the years, we’ve sought to prevent any serious disagreement in one issue area from spilling over and degrading the entire relationship,” he said.

At the summit earlier this month, Obama confronted Xi over allegations of cyber-theft. Xi earlier told a news conference with Obama that China itself was a victim of cyber attacks but that the two sides should work together to develop a common approach.

Snowden’s revelations of widespread snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency in China and Hong Kong have given Beijing considerable ammunition in the tit-for-tat exchange.

“In a sense, the United States has gone from a ’model of human rights’ to ’an eavesdropper on personal privacy’, the ’manipulator’ of the centralised power over the international Internet, and the mad ’invader’ of other countries’ networks,” said the overseas edition of China’s People’s Daily, which can reflect the government’s thinking.

“The world will remember Edward Snowden,” the newspaper said. “It was his fearlessness that tore off Washington’s sanctimonious mask.”

Beijing was torn about keeping Snowden or letting him go, but decided that allowing him to leave was “the lesser of three evils”, a source with ties to China’s leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for speaking to a foreign reporter.

“If Snowden was handed over to the United States, China would be perceived to be a running dog of the United States and be criticised by (Chinese and foreign) Internet users sympathetic to Snowden,” the source said.

“Allowing Snowden to continue to stay in Hong Kong or come to the mainland would cause more trouble and headache,” the source said. “Allowing Snowden to leave was the only option”.

This thing has nothing to do with China, except that America owes China an explanation on the cyber-attacks
Liu Feitao, China Institute of International Studies

The Chinese government has said it was gravely concerned by Snowden’s allegations that the United States had hacked into many networks in Hong and China, including Tsinghua University, which hosts one of the country’s Internet hubs, and Chinese mobile network companies. It has said it had taken the issue up with Washington.

“Not only did the US authorities not give us an explanation and apology, it instead expressed dissatisfaction at the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for handling things in accordance with law,” wrote Wang Xinjun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science, in the People’s Daily commentary.

State news agency Xinhua was more conciliatory in its tone.

“Both Beijing and Washington fully know that an isolated case should not be allowed to hurt one of the most critical relationships in the world,” Xinhua said in a commentary. “It is in the interest of both countries to keep the positive momentum in bilateral relations.”

Still, China’s academics and state media have been loud in their calls for the Obama administration to apologise to Beijing.

“The United States should not shift the real focus,” said Liu Feitao, the deputy chief of US studies at the China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank affiliated with China’s foreign ministry.

“This thing has nothing to do with China, except that America owes China an explanation on the cyber-attack leaks by Snowden.”



Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Bash and Blame, us culture and fav past time. What nerves!!! If a chinese national went to us with sensitive chinese hacking us computer system's information and ask for protection. the chinese ask us to send him back to china, you think us is going to do that?
In this case, snowden has information about us hacking into other countries computer system including china and hong kong. is there any reason for china to hand him over?
who does the us government think they are? i know, biggest hypocrite in the world!!!
tell me jeff...who or what is falun gong...I am really curious, Each time I walk passed them at causeway bay or tsimshatsui, I see the usual stuff.
I heard that this leader is residing in USA and he is like an unknown person. Always hiding and nothing...I mean nothing.
If he/she is really preaching what he/she believes in, maybe he or she should be in the news and talk about all those things you mentioned above.
Frankly, my honestly opinion is that this falun gong is nothing but a cult sponsored by someone or some organization or society or whatever.
beside, no offence but pls take your trash elsewhere.
John Adams
Hot off the US Press:
"Washington (CNN) -- The House of Representatives voted Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over documents tied to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting -- a discredited operation that has become a sharp point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in Washington.
The House approved a pair of CRIMINAL and civil measures against the attorney general, marking the first time in American history that the head of the Justice Department has been held in contempt by Congress.
House members approved the criminal contempt measure in a 255-67 vote. Almost every House Republican backed the measure, along with 17 Democrats. Shortly thereafter, the civil measure passed in a sharply polarized 258-95 vote."
Is this the same Attorney-General who asked HK to arrest Snowden but failed to supply sufficient details ?
If so, no wonder the details he supplied were incomplete.
I guess his mind was saving his own skin from prison
Meanwhile NSA Director Keith Alexander has been caught out lying ( yes LYING) to a congressional inquiry about not only whether the NSA snoops on its own citizens but also whether the NSA even has the capability to do so (In both cases he answered 'no')
Seems we should all spend much more time following US news instead of HK and China.
right, the us government has lied to the world and invaded iraq and destroyed the country. during this quest, hundreds and thousands of people died including innocent iraqis and americans. since the wwii, which has been in war conflict more than any other? please look yourself in the mirror. although i am not saying what you stated is not true, but you also have been totally brainwashed that the usa is a saint!!!!
hard times !
The gangster, the biggest gangster in cyber world is no one but Uncle Sam who has not yet offered an explanation to either China or Hong Kong for her intrusions into our computers (China snce 1998 and Hong Kong since 2009 !) by its NSA----the largest hacker in the world ! One should apologize for one's wrongdoings, every kid is taught by his/her mother in the childhood.Yet maybe Obama's mum was just too occupied by her job not to teach her child that important civil manner.How miserable it was !
hard times !
they think they are the chosen people of God besides the Israelites of course.They are destined to lead and dominate the world.Yet from this Snowden Gate Incident,it is clear that China is rising to become a major player in world affairs and even Hong Kong doesn't have to give in to Uncle Sam's pressure and threats---since we are mutual beneficial to each other:Hong Kong buys and uses lots of American foodstuff,goods and services besides travelling there and tertiary education as well.No wonder Russia claims that Snowden has never stepped on her soil, he just stayed in the transit area of their airport in Moscow,waiting to go to another country,how can they deport or even detain him ? How wonderful the development of the saga is ! It is more exciting and interesting than any adventure films indeed.I suggest Obama and his aides watch the film,'The Terminal' maybe they will understand more about their current situation !
The gangster Chinese Communist Party is not interested in World peace, far from it. Its ambition is World domination which is held at bay only by the power of the American military machine. When it comes to the cruelty of the CCP, God bless America is correct. The evil CCP has murdered one hundred million of its own people since 1949 and is now attempting the genocide of tens of millions of innocent Falun Gong practitioners by the use of torture, slavery, organ harvesting and murder. This is my understanding, thank you.


SCMP.com Account