They’ll Send Him Home

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June 10, 2013 4:27 a.m.

Hong Kong-based TPM Reader RC says Beijing/Hong Kong will send Snowden back to the USA …

As a longtime HK-based journalist and Beijing observer, my view is that there isn’t really a scenario in which Beijing wouldn’t send back Edward Snowden. In their minds he is a lawbreaker of the worst, Ai Weiwei-Liu Xiaobo kind.

Plus, it is part of their own imaging that they are the upright defenders of the law (despite the Party’s own vast depths of lawlessness) so while they might be tempted to use this for diplomatic leverage, more likely they would make common cause with the US, as they have against Islamic extremists.

There is no political upside for Beijing in allowing Snowden to stay here. They would see him as an incitement to human rights defenders and whistleblowers, a foreign troublemaker who would prompt awkward questions from Chinese citizens about their own heavy domestic surveillance.

Barring a scenario in which Snowden escapes Hong Kong and somehow makes his way to, say, Ecuador, I expect the Communist Party will allow the extradition court case to run its course through the Hong Kong legal system and declare that it demonstrated once more the matchlessly smooth workings of ‘one country-two systems’. Diplomatically it can win some brownie points with the Americans.

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