News / Asia

Snowden Flight to Hong Kong Stirs Debate

Photos of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and U.S. President Barack Obama are printed on the front pages of local English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong, June 11, 2013.
Photos of Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and U.S. President Barack Obama are printed on the front pages of local English and Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong, June 11, 2013.
William Ide
The revelation that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has fled to China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong is stirring up discussion among Chinese about Internet freedom and the measures governments take to monitor online activity in the name of national security. 

Although state-media in China have given the case limited coverage, many people are busy commenting online about Edward Snowden’s flight to Hong Kong and what he has exposed about U.S. Internet surveillance programs.

Some praise Snowden, calling him a hero for standing up to the U.S. government and compare him to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  Another calls the case another slap in the face of U.S. democracy.

Blogger and columnist Michael Anti writes about Internet issues in China.  He said many people online in China are surprised that the U.S. is doing the same thing the Chinese government does.

“I do not think the Chinese government will [be] embarrassed by the case because Xi Jinping and Obama and talk about, the top issue is cyber security, so this case come out, it made the argument made by the American government about cyber security is less convinced [convincing] to the public," said Anti. "So I think this story benefited the Chinese government.”  

Anti said there are still contradictions between the leaker’s statements and companies such as Google and others who have denied involvement, but the case could have a serious impact on Internet freedom in China.

“The [Chinese] government will say, 'We told you, every government does the same thing about Internet control, and all the criticism you [the U.S.] once made to us about Internet freedom, basically is very hypocritical," Anti noted.

University of Hong Kong legal scholar Simon Young agrees. “Like in many human rights debates that the U.S. and China have, this might well be an issue that fortifies the mainland authorities in rebuffing the U.S. in saying, 'Well you are no better than us, and look at how you defend these practices and policies so hence, what's wrong with what we are doing, in the mainland',” he said.

As the debate about the case goes global, U.S. officials have given no indication they might scrap the program, despite the backlash.  Critics said the program is a threat to privacy protections and it exceeds the limits set by laws on American intelligence set up to thwart possible terrorist attacks.

U.S. President Barrack Obama is coming under increasing pressure to take action in the case and possibly seek the extradition of Snowden.  U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee chair Diane Feinstein says Snowden has committed an "act of treason" that should be prosecuted.

But Young said getting to that point could take a long time.  Extradition or request for surrender, as it is called in Hong Kong, would involve both a lengthy court process and approval from Hong Kong’s chief executive.

“Throughout this process it is possible to challenge the various decisions made in the higher courts and ultimately on appeal to the court of final appeal, if leave is granted.  It would probably be definitely months and possibly even years if he tries to exhaust all of his appeal routes,” stated Young.

Young adds residents in Hong Kong are likely to be sympathetic with Snowden’s efforts to safeguard citizens privacy.

“I think these issues are largely about what you think about secrecy in government, interference in one's private life, and whistleblowing essentially, and in many respects Hong Kong's values in this area are probably very similar to Western values," said Young. "I mean, Hong Kong is an international city and like the United States we have constitutional protection against interference with privacy.”

But just as much as the case is a legal matter, it is also political and diplomatic.

The revelation that Snowden was in Hong Kong came a day after U.S. President Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held their first informal talks in California and focused on improving ties.

Political analysts say how they handle the matter could be the first major test Obama and Xi face in the effort to open a new chapter for U.S.-China ties.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 12, 2013 12:16 PM
American's in a way deserve this because they supported china as china was doing this to their citizens what you thought it wouldn't come here? also you americans voted Obama in (if votes are even counted in America) so now you reap what you sew
(I hope my ip address isn't logged for obvious reasons :(


by: NT from: us
June 11, 2013 9:48 PM
national security is more important than privacy. Sometimes, we cannot have both. I rather have government monitoring than terrorist attacks

In Response

by: NT from: us
June 12, 2013 2:54 PM
you forget the fact that US is trying to track down terrorists, not political dissidents like China or other communist countries and dictators. US didn't do that before 9/11 event. We have lived in a different world after 9/11.

In Response

by: Stone from: CN
June 12, 2013 11:10 AM
if you think so, just tell your government not to criticize Chinese government! just live in your own "democracy"! so funny!


by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
June 11, 2013 9:31 PM
LOL, US democracy is a joke!


by: Steve Grumman from: Philippines
June 11, 2013 9:13 PM
It looks like America's image as a democracy has been taken down several notches. Americans appear to have little better than their Chinese counterparts...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid