Jiang Xiaofeng


Snowden Was Secretly Instructed When to Leave Hong Kong

August 03, 2013


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Robles: Hello, Xiaofeng how are you?

Jiang: Hey, John, how are you doing?

Robles: I'm very well, thank you! You came to Moscow, I believe, with Edward Snowden, or right after he did. Can you tell us a little bit about your impression, about the case and about Moscow and Russia?

Jiang: As you rightly pointed, I'm here to see how Mr. Snowden's case is going and in related service I also want to observe what U.S.-Russian relations are affected by this and of course I'm here to experience Russia's progress and the changes. Because it's my first time to visit Russia, so I'm very personally interested in Russian history. Probably you know that.

I guess, younger generation in China are more interested in America than Russia. They're sort of westernized, but the older generation, like my mom and dad, although they had no opportunity to visit Russia, but they grew up with Communist system and all Soviet related memories, like Soviet movies and Soviet songs.

Sometimes Moscow means as much as Beijing to them. And them seeing my picture sent from here would make them excited to some extent.

As a journalist I feel that news coverage of Russia is not as much as of the United States and so I really hope we can know more about Russia in the future through media outlets, even when Mr. Snowden is not here.

Robles: So, even in Hong Kong there's not much news from Russia there? Is there some sort of Western control of the media in Hong Kong?

Jiang: No, Hong Kong is a society where we enjoy free expression and media is not controlled by the government. Interestingly enough I see that Hong Kong is the place where Mr. Snowden started to blow his whistle and here, Russia, is where Snowden had to face the consequence of whistleblowing. Hong Kong and Moscow are two dots on maps, but they are connected in this regard.

Robles: You've seen the situation in both places with Mr. Snowden. What was the reaction in Hong Kong? What have you seen of the reaction of Russia and how would you compare the two?

Jiang: Well, in Hong Kong people are more interested in how Hong Kong treated Snowden's case, but when the United States asked Hong Kong for Snowden's provisionary arrest, the official response was: “Who exactly do you mean?”

Probably there was a technical mistake involved at that time. The Hong Kong Justice Secretary said that they were not sure who the United States were looking for, because the U.S. government got Snowden's middle name wrong in the documents filed to back its arrest request.

The Secretary said Hong Kong immigration record listed his middle name as Joseph, but the U.S. government used name James in some documents and referred to him only as Edward J Snowden in others. So there were names exactly, and Hong Kong officials did believe that there was a need to clarify. And U.S. authorities also failed to provide Snowden's passport number.

So there were mistakes involved or miscommunication involved in that. As for Hong Kong’s attitude to Snowden's case, people were sort of pro-Snowden at that time. As we know Hong Kong is society where people enjoy free expression and they love to see people like Snowden to blow whistle and let people know what exactly was going on inside the government.

Robles: I see. Do you think that Hong Kong would have sent him or extradited him back to the U.S. if it was for the documents? And do you think that document story was a real story? Maybe they were just coming up with an excuse? Do you think they would have sent him back?

Jiang: In Hong Kong there was a legal system and at that time there was no legal basis for the requested provisional arrest warrant. In absence of such a warrant Hong Kong government has no legal basis for restricting or prohibiting Snowden leaving Hong Kong.

But later we found out that the U.S. officials didn't buy Hong Kong’s explanation and neither do some experts, the decision to let Snowden go has raised tensions, between the U.S. and Hong Kong. And U.S. officials suggested that Beijing might have a hand in letting Snowden leave Hong Kong, which is a former British colony, and now a semi-autonomous region with its own legal system.

But the Hong Kong leaders, I mean, the Executive Chief of Hong Kong said they were following the city's rule of law in processing the U.S. request. As I have personally observed, Hong Kong courts always looked at things very closely and they do not take short cuts. So I believe Hong Kong was treating in a normal way, in a legal way.

Robles: Sure, they followed the Hong Kong laws, right? Even if he had requested asylum, they would have to look at his case, I don't think they could have sent him back anyway.

How do you feel about that U.S. arrogance? Apparently Hong Kong they believe supposed to abide by what Washington says and if, for some reason, if Beijing says something, it's something evil. Doesn't that seem ridiculous to you?

Jiang: Personally, I think that Mr. Snowden has exposed anything that people were thinking of, but they had no concrete proof. But all of a sudden, they see what they were suspicious of was true. And we later found out the United States expressed strong objection to authorities both in Hong Kong and in Beijing at their decision to let Snowden flee.

And I can tell you that a lawyer for Snowden that was in Hong Kong said that he was told to flee Hong Kong by a middle man, claiming to represent the local government, but actually who was probably acting on behalf of Beijing.

And some analysts believe the move was orchestrated by China to avoid a long diplomatic tussle with the United States over his extradition. And later China compromised by deciding to neither grant Snowden protection, nor hand him over, as the U.S. requested.

It's not difficult to imagine handing Snowden over would have been an unpopular move within China.

Robles: Yeah, I think so.

August 13, 2013


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I’m speaking with Mr. Xiaofeng Jiang, a correspondent for Phoenix television in Hong Kong.

Robles: I’m happy to see that Hong Kong stood up to the United States, I think China did. It was wonderful to see that they were independent, that Hong Kong followed the rule of law which is something the United States did not want them to do. Do you feel proud for Hong Kong and China that they were able to stand up like this?

Jiang: Being a citizen of Hong Kong which reverted to the Chinese rule in the year of 1997 and it retains an independent legal system and its own extradition laws and it treated him in a way that many Hong Kong citizens are proud of, as you correctly mention.

Robles: How would you characterize the Russian reaction and the Russian treatment of Mr. Snowden compared to the treatment he received in Hong Kong?

Jiang: Well, Hong Kong, as I said, is a semi-autonomous region. When the Snowden case exploded many foreign affairs got involved. But according to the current system Beijing still controls the foreign affairs and that’s different from what we see here in Russia, where the Russian Federation Government can control everything by itself.

I personally think Mr. Snowden has found the best place, maybe on this planet, to provide himself with a safe place. As we see, Russia is probably one of the very few countries in this world to withstand US pressure.

Robles: I’m very proud of Russia myself. Can I ask you a question, because this came up, you know, we’ve been watching, you’ve been reporting on this, I’ve been reporting on this, everybody wondered: why didn’t he just go to China? Can you comment on that? I think he could have had some sort of a good life there.

Jiang: Probably yes. Why China, why Hong Kong? It’s a good question.

Mr. Snowden started from Hawaii right? Yeah. If we draw a circle we could find out that Hong Kong was probably the nearest place Mr. Snowden could find himself a safe place in that atmosphere. You might ask why not Japan, South Korea or the Philippines.

Robles: No, that’s a moot point, I wouldn’t even ask. That’s an obvious. They would just hand him right over.

Jiang: Exactly.

Robles: Do you think he considered going to the People’s Republic of China?

Jiang: I wouldn’t think he would go to Beijing or the People’s Republic of China for that. That might make things more complicated. And China’s way of handling Snowden’s case is trying not to get too many things involved, I think.

Robles: I see. Really Russia didn’t ask for this, he wasn’t a Russian agent, he wasn’t helping Russia, he didn’t provide this information to Russia but he just showed up. How would you characterize the Russian government’s response?

Jiang: I think Russia’s way of handling the Snowden case is… I would personally give applause. As we see, the highest-ranking Russian officials are saying not making a mountain out of a molehill over Snowden’s case. They have more important issues to deal with, either the United States or other countries.

In reality Snowden’s case is important for Russia’s foreign affairs. I think Russia-US relations are affected to some extent but not out of control. So it’s like a card or a tool played by both sides. I think the Russian Federation has gained the upper hand.

Robles: I see. Do you think the US response is… you said the words “out of control” I think? Doesn’t it seem that the US is out of control on the Snowden affair. They are like going crazy trying to get him back. I mean, stopping Evo Morales’ aircraft, and all the letters and threats they’ve made to other countries around the world.

Jiang: Sometimes it’s self-contradictory, as I see, when President Obama said that he wouldn’t suggest catching Mr. Snowden but they are using every legal way to catch him or extradite him. It’s lucky for Mr. Snowden to hide in Sheremetyevo airport which is relatively safe. Although we do not see him personally but I can feel that he is safe here in the Russian Federation.

Robles: Well. He is not going to be given back!

Jiang: No.

Robles: Now, can we finish up with: what are your impressions about Moscow? You’ve been here, how long now?

Jiang: Three or four days. It’s a short visit but very impressive. As a journalist I would hope to cover Russia issue more and even if Mr. Snowden is not in Moscow, I hope Chinese people can know more about Russia and Moscow, just like my father’s generation.

Robles: That would be great. What’s the best thing you’ve seen here? What’s your best experience here in Moscow?

Jiang: My best experience journalistically speaking, when I was covering Mr. Snowden’s case at the airport, I can work in a very free way, not bothered by certain authorities. Journalists can work, (Russia) provides a very good environment for journalists!

Robles: Really? You feel as a journalist that you are very free to move around?

Jiang: Yes, at least it was like this today. Maybe if I stay here longer I will feel some difficulties.

Robles: I doubt it. It’s nice to hear. Have you tried Russian food?

Jiang: Oh, yes I have. We have Moscow restaurants in Beijing. They have been operating for decades. I used to try that and they are still popular and they help people to relate back to the days when China and the Soviet Union shared the same ideology. It’s food, memory, it’s history- very interesting.

Robles: What’s your favorite Russian dish?

Jiang: For many Chinese people and for me as well it is red soup!

Robles: Borsch!

Jiang: Yes, Borsch!

Robles: What has been your favorite place in Moscow?

Jiang: I didn’t have a chance to see many places but I am always moving around. Many interesting places, I wouldn’t say which is my favorite place, but the whole city is very interesting to me.

Robles: Thanks a lot.

Jiang: Thanks for having me!


Last Update: 08/06/2023 03:23 +0300



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