How have Chinese responded to revelations about the extent of the NSA’s domestic surveillance activities?
Depends on where you’re looking.
First, you have to separate the mainland from Hong Kong, where avowed leaker Edward Snowden remains in hiding, according to The Guardian.
Though of course a part of China, the region enjoys greater autonomy than areas directly controlled by Beijing. As a result, we get the picture at the right, which shows demonstrators imploring Hong Kong authorities not to extradite Snowden to the U.S.
On the mainland, awareness of the issue is more diffuse.
We spoke with two Beijing business professionals who both said there hasn’t been much talk of it among people they know. One said it’s likely Party officials do not want to make a big deal out of Snowden, lest it encourage debate about the government’s own aggressive domestic surveillance programs.
Council on Foreign Relations East Asia export Adam Segal agreed. “Officials have been pretty quiet about it — they’re unlikely to raise it directly,” he told us.
NPR’s Frank Langfitt reported that as of Tuesday, Snowden had not cracked the top 10 hot topics on Chinese social media site Weibo, although ABC’s Gloria Riviera reported that when surveyed, 78% of Weibo users said Snowden was a “freedom fighter.”
What coverage there has been from state-sponsored media has focused on the perceived hypocrisy of the U.S., which has accused China of attempting to hack defence networks, among other targets.
“They’re taking the revelations about Chinese targets as a sign of the U.S. trying to distract from its own ‘evil empire’…And also the U.S. portraying itself as a champion of Internet freedom — that that can’t take be taken seriously.”
The AP’s Malin Rising reported today there have now been “informal” talks of Snowden coming to Iceland, which has a tradition of granting asylum in contentious political cases.
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