(The Guardian) State-run People’s Daily says whistleblower has exposed US hypocrisy after Washington blamed Beijing for his escape.
China‘s top state newspaper has praised the fugitive US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden for “tearing off Washington’s sanctimonious mask” and rejected accusations Beijing had facilitated his departure from Hong Kong.
The strongly worded front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist party, responded to harsh criticism of China from the US for allowing Snowden to flee.
The Chinese government has said it was gravely concerned by Snowden’s allegations that the US had hacked into many networks in Hong Kong and China, including Tsinghua University, which hosts one of the country’s internet hubs, and Chinese mobile network companies. It 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.
“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,” the People’s Daily said.
The White House said allowing 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”.
The People’s Daily, which reflects the thinking of the government, said China could not accept “this kind of dissatisfaction and opposition”.
“The world will remember Edward Snowden,” the newspaper said. “It was his fearlessness that tore off Washington’s sanctimonious mask”.
The exchanges mark a deterioration in ties between the two countries just weeks after a successful summit meeting between presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. But experts say Washington is unlikely to resort to any punitive action.
A commentary in the Global Times, owned by the People’s Daily, also attacked the US for cornering “a young idealist who has exposed the sinister scandals of the US government”.
“Instead of apologising, Washington is showing off its muscle by attempting to control the whole situation,” the Global Times said.
Snowden gave US authorities the slip by leaving Hong Kong on an Aeroflot plane to Moscow on Sunday. The US had requested his detention for extradition to the US on treason charges but the Hong Kong authorities responded that the papers had not been in order and Snowden was free to leave.
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said Washington did not believe the explanation that it was a “technical” decision by Hong Kong immigration authorities. “The Hong Kong authorities were advised of the status of Mr Snowden’s travel documents in plenty of time to have prohibited his travel as appropriate. We do not buy the suggestion that China could not have taken action.”