For more, see Daily Speical(s): World reacts to Edward Snowden's leak
Ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden on Monday participated in a live blog on the UK-based Guardian newspaper's website, where he affirmed that he is not a spy for China, and criticized the US government which he said "immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home."
He also mentioned an instance where the US and the UK monitored communications by many participants of the 2009 G20 London Summit including phone calls of then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.
Compared with Julian Assange, Snowden has dealt a more direct blow to Washington. As public sympathy and support for Snowden are increasing, the US government is stuck in an embarrassing position.
Public opinion will have a large impact on Snowden's destiny. It seems that Snowden being extradited back to the US has become an inconceivable option. As for Hong Kong, the SAR government is being more pressured by public opinion than by Washington. Besides the loss of intelligence, the US government will now have to pay a double penalty if it forces Snowden to return home.
Washington has made a wise choice not to publicly pressure the Hong Kong SAR government and the Chinese Central government. Beijing has been preserving its ability to influence the incident. Washington is not confident it has enough moral standing to confront Beijing in public. Spreading rumors Snowden is a Chinese spy will not help Washington.
The resolution of this incident will depend on what the Hong Kong SAR government does next. Currently, Hong Kong should follow its own laws and procedures as well as public opinion, the key factor, to address the issue.
The Hong Kong SAR government might as well be more candid in dealing with this incident, without excessive consideration of Sino-American relations. Things will go much easier if Hong Kong plays a leading role in resolving this incident, rather than being told by Beijing or Washington what to do.
Hong Kong's economy has maintained prospering since its return to China in 1997. But arguments about its democracy never recede. However, Snowden's belief in its freedom and democracy offers Hong Kong a valuable opportunity to showcase its image. Proving itself a free society in front of the world is where the best and long-term interest of Hong Kong, the "Pearl of the Orient," lies.
Since Hong Kong is where Chinese dissidents can find shelter, then why can't an American "rebel" be harbored there? Hong Kong has the chance to expand its political freedom to a larger extent, setting an example for the rest of the world. A proper settlement of the Snowden incident will produce strategic significance for Hong Kong's future.
Selfishness has been pushing Washington to employ double standards in political affairs. If it doesn't readjust such policies, its international reputation will be permanently damaged.
The Snowden incident has ushered Hong Kong into the spotlight of international politics. Hong Kong will certainly not become a laughingstock of public opinion worldwide.