Last year, during his visit to the United States, Chinese president Xi Jinping introduced the idea of a “new type of great-power relationship.” In March of this year, in apparent response, President Obama’s national-security adviser, Tom Donilon, suggested an interest in building “a new model of relations between an existing power and an emerging one.” This June, the two presidents met in California to explore whether their strategic outlooks can be reconciled. That’s all gone now and Edward Snowden is at the heart of it.
Obama’s bungling has sunk US-China relations to a new low.
Snowden’s public disclosures about US electronic spying on China convey to the world that China cannot defend itself from US electronic surveillance. Moreover, the issue of cyber intrusions was a top US agenda item in the meeting between the two Presidents in the first week of June. China has lost face. Relations with the US administration are in a crisis.
Today, the People’s Daily wrote (June Edition), “In a sense, the United States has gone from a ‘model of human rights’ to ‘an eavesdropper on personal privacy’, the ‘manipulator’ of the centralized power over the international Internet, and the mad ‘invader’ of other countries’ networks.”
It’s a scandal of epic proportions in China, though that’s not how the American mainstream media is playing it in the US for domestic consumption. Snowden’s disclosures and the Obama Administration’s handling of them constitute a pivot point in relations with the US because they reinforce Chinese suspicions and prejudices about the US.
China has problems of its own. Their costs of doing business exceed those in Mexico (for example) and
China appears to have slipped into recession. The Chinese government relies on growth to maintain social stability. Essentially, the people’s expectations have been raised, and the government is responsible for making them happy. Learning that the United States has been reading their e-mail and eves dropping on every telephone call made has not inspired confidence in the populace’s view of their government (the loss of face mentioned above).
Additional Comments: This is a scandal not necessarily due to the content of what Snowden disclosed as it is because of the high handed way that the US is dealing with China to try and fetch Snowden back. The Obama Administration is doing everything wrong, and it vindicates Chinese face-saving measures, which do not seem to have been anticipated by Team Obama. In fact, we have not seen the end of this.