Edward Snowden‘s statement that NSA spied on computers and networks in Hong Kong and mainland China is among the headlines mentioned at the beginning of CCTV‘s main daily newscast, Xinwen Lianbo, and gets an almost two-minutes’ slot towards the end of the program. CCTV quotes from a one-hour interview conducted by the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The headlines’ ranking lists usually depend on how high in Chinese protocol people “making” the news are – starting with party and state chairman Xi Jinping, even if the actual weight of his event is rather small. That’s why news like Snowden’s descriptions of NSA activity wouldn’t appear further up in the program.
Snowden’s comments may be a sweet-sour surprise for Beijing – sweet for supporting China’s claim that China, too, is a victim of hacking activities (which has been Beijing’s reply to U.S. criticism of alleged Chinese hacking attacks in the past), and sour, as Snowden’s stay in Hong Kong may strain relations with Washington – a relationship which are meant to become a new type of relations between big powers.
One outcome would appear hardly conceivable to me, though: that Snowden would be extradited – unless a court in Hong Kong makes such a decision. I’m not sure if the central government has a say in this (given its role in Hong Kong when it comes to diplomacy and defense issues), or if this will be for the Hong Kong courts alone to decide.
But if the decision is a homework for Beijing, extraditing Snowden would be hard to sell to the Chinese audience.