China said to be behind Snowden's flight from Hong Kong

  • June 23, 2013 - 9:42 PM

– The Chinese government made the final decision to allow Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, to leave Hong Kong on Sunday, a move that Beijing believed resolved a tough diplomatic problem even as it reaped a publicity windfall from Snowden’s disclosures, according to people familiar with the ­situation.

Hong Kong authorities have insisted that their judicial process remains independent of China, but these observers — who like many in this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about confidential discussions — said that matters of foreign policy are the domain of the Chinese government and that Beijing exercised that authority in allowing Snowden to go.

From China’s point of view, analysts said, the departure of Snowden solved two concerns: how to prevent Beijing’s relationship with the U.S. from being ensnared in a long legal wrangle in Hong Kong over Snowden and how to deal with a Chinese public that widely regards the U.S. computer expert as a hero.

“Behind the door there was definitely some coordination between Hong Kong and Beijing,” said Jin Canrong, professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

Beijing’s chief concern was the stability of the relationship with the United States, which the Chinese believed had been placed on a surer footing during the meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Obama in California this month, said Jin.

The Chinese government was pleased that Snowden disclosed the extent of U.S. surveillance of Internet and phone conversations around the world, giving the Chinese people a chance to talk about what they describe as American hypocrisy regarding surveillance practices, said Jin and a person familiar with the consultations between Hong Kong and China.

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