Tuesday, June 25, 2013

china: this chess, not checkers...,

NYTimes |  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 mainland authorities 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 Hong Kong government also hit back at American criticisms, saying that the United States had received ample warning that its request for Mr. Snowden’s detention was incomplete.