As American National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden remains hidden in Hong Kong, Beijing says it has no information on his whereabouts.
US-China relations have become further strained after Snowden delivered another diplomatic bomb: he says the US has been hacking computers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as well as “public officials, businesses and students” since 2009.
“I am worried because it is unclear who can monitor everyone. There is little information about how the world of internet works. I feel that my privacy could be compromised,” said one student of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“This incident is hurting the credibility of US government, because the US government gives the impression that it is reliable and kind to its citizens. Now citizens have to reconsider whether the US government is worthy of their trust,” explained Ken Law, a financial analyst in Hong Kong.
Washington has lamented Snowden’s revelations over its surveillance programme which they deem an essential tool in the fight against terrorism both in the US and abroad.
US General Keith Alexander, NSA Director said the disclosures which have sparked a criminal investigation and an internal security review have jeopardised security:
“Great harm has already been done, by opening this up and the consequence I believe is our security is jeopardised. Not only the United States but those allies that we have helped will no longer be as safe as they were two weeks ago.”
Snowden told a Hong Kong newspaper that he is not hiding from justice but revealing criminality. ‘Support Snowden’ a group which defends the ex-CIA man’s decision to go public with NSA surveillance have organised a demonstration in Hong Kong. The ex-British colony has a degree of autonomy from the Chinese mainland. It has exercised extradition agreements with the US on previous occasions. However, Snowden has yet to be publicly charged, so no proceedings have been launched. How Beijing reacts to extradition proceedings will be the next test for US-China relations.
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