Snowden won’t steer Sino-US ties astray

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-6-26 0:38:02

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Washington registered its strong objections to the authorities of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region permitting Edward Snowden, the former contractor for the National Security Agency and leaker of its secrets, to flee, claiming that "such behavior is detrimental to US-China bilateral relations." For now, Snowden's final shelter is still unknown.

Should China follow Washington's request to arrest Snowden and extradite him home? Few countries in the world would accede to such a request.

The sensation that Snowden has aroused poses sensitive and difficult choices for both China and the US. It is also probable that both sides have conducted negotiations in private. But Snowden's flight, no matter where he is going and how he will be treated, is an acceptable consequence for both countries. The incident cannot end up with a singer winner and loser.

Washington's objection, in a logical sense, can be seen as an attempt to make it easy for both China and the US. On the one hand, it lets the Chinese public believe that the authorities of the Hong Kong SAR did not yield to Washington's pressure. On the other hand, it saves face for the US by putting forward the idea that Washington still maintains its dominant power and Obama will not compromise even though the incident involves China.

Obviously, the Snowden incident will not steer the China-US relations astray, because the ties are supported by the largest volume of global trade and underpin peace in the Asia-Pacific region. On the contrary, this incident has probably offered both countries with an opportunity of undertaking close communications, which has avoided the worst possible conclusions of the incident.

There is possibility that the Sino-US relationship might be upturned, but Snowden should not take the blame. Whether both countries can develop their relationship relies on whether they are able to deal with their issues in a smart way.

The Snowden incident can be given in many versions. But to the global public, what really matters is the basic truth of the causes and effects of this incident: Snowden left the US for Hong Kong, where he made the most of its freedom and exposed Washington's violations of privacy and cyber attacks against other countries, and at his own will, he left Hong Kong, which did not extradite him back to the US or gave him political asylum status.

Washington's political reputation has become unrecoverable. It lost moral standing after becoming used to throwing its weight around against other countries in cyberspace.

For the US, punishing Snowden can only serve as a lesson and deterrent for its potential whistle-blowers. But such punishment will ignite a new storm in public opinion, which will regard Snowden as a heroic martyr for Internet freedom. Therefore, the wisest choice for Washington is lying low and dealing with Snowden carefully.

The settlement of this incident has proved that Washington's hegemony still exists, but it is not entirely intact. Stopping being arrogant and aggressive toward other countries might help save some of its lost face.

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