Tuesday, 25 June 2013

China Brushes Aside U.S. Warnings on Snowden

She reiterated official Chinese criticism of the United States for public statements that have accused China of cyberattacks against American interests. “I’d like to advise these people to hold up a mirror, reflect and take care of their own situation first,” she said.

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Guanyu 道 said...

China Brushes Aside U.S. Warnings on Snowden

By JANE PERLEZ and CHRIS BUCKLEY
25 June 2013

China brushed aside Tuesday the Obama administration’s warning that allowing the former national security contractor Edward J. Snowden to leave Hong Kong would have negative consequences, and said that the relationship between the United States and China should continue unimpeded.

On Monday, the White House effectively put responsibility for Mr. Snowden’s departure on Beijing, not on the Hong Kong authorities, although the Obama administration had made its request for Mr. Snowden’s arrest to Hong Kong.

At a Foreign Ministry briefing Tuesday, a spokeswoman called the warning by the White House and United States Secretary of State John Kerry “groundless.” The administration’s comments “really make people wonder,” said the spokeswoman, Hua Chunying.

China expects an important annual meeting between the United States and China, known as the Security and Economic Dialogue, to proceed as scheduled for July in Washington, Ms. Hua said.

She reiterated official Chinese criticism of the United States for public statements that have accused China of cyberattacks against American interests. “I’d like to advise these people to hold up a mirror, reflect and take care of their own situation first,” she said.

Mr. Snowden is thought to be in Moscow after landing there from Hong Kong on Sunday, but his precise whereabouts are unclear.

In Beijing, people with knowledge of how China handled Mr. Snowden’s exit from Hong Kong were claiming a tactical victory for China, saying that the government had acted in China’s best interests, and in the long-term interests of its relationship with the United States.

“What did the United States expect China to do? Hand him over? That would be very stupid,” said Sun Zhe, director of the Center for U.S.-China Relations at Tsinghua University. “This was the best China could do.”

According to a Chinese journalist who often talks with Hong Kong government and mainland Chinese officials in Hong Kong, the Chinese authorities organized an ad hoc group, led by Yang Jiechi, a former foreign minister and now a state councilor, to handle the Snowden matter. The group answered to President Xi Jinping, the journalist said.

The Chinese decided to keep a distance from Mr. Snowden personally to ensure that if Mr. Snowden eventually ended up in American hands he would not be able to disclose what Chinese officials said to him, the journalist said.

Beijing determined early on that Mr. Snowden would have to leave Hong Kong, and should not be allowed to stay to go through a protracted legal battle in the Hong Kong courts to resist the United States extradition demand, the journalist said. “That would have lasted years, and then the United States would also wonder what he was telling China,” the journalist said. “What would the United States prefer?”

The Chinese authorities timed Mr. Snowden’s departure for Moscow to match their own interests, he said. Beijing decided not to let him go too quickly, he said, because that would have made China look weak. He believed there were communications between Beijing and Moscow to ensure that Mr. Snowden landed in Moscow without surprising the Russian government.

The Obama administration has come under fire from Congress and others in Washington for allowing Mr. Snowden to leave Hong Kong, but how much the administration pressed Hong Kong and Beijing remained unclear.

The United States concentrated its diplomatic efforts on the Hong Kong authorities, not Beijing, two Chinese who monitored the process said. The request for Mr. Snowden’s extradition was made to Hong Kong, which has an extradition treaty with the United States.

Guanyu 道 said...

Hong Kong said that the request did not fully meet its legal requirements, and after that China gave the green light for Mr. Snowden to fly to Moscow. The Chinese government decided that he had to leave before Washington made a request that might be acceptable to the Hong Kong courts, the journalist said.

An editorial published Tuesday by the state-run Xinhua news agency reflected the Foreign Ministry position, but went further, saying the Snowden case “might not be a completely bad thing after all.”

“Beijing and Washington can actually use the case to facilitate ongoing efforts to deal with the issue” of cybersecurity, it said. “The two sides can sit down and talk through their mutual suspicions.”

The Chinese state-controlled press continued Tuesday to roll out a barrage of praise for Mr. Snowden.

“The world will remember Edward Snowden,” said People’s Daily, the chief mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party. “It was his fearlessness that tore off Washington’s sanctimonious image.”

Chris Buckley reported from Hong Kong.