China on Monday joined calls for Washington to provide explanations following disclosures of National Security Agency (NSA) programmes, which collect millions of telephone records and track foreign internet activity on US networks.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters that Washington needs to heed international concerns expressed since the programmes were made public earlier this month by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Officials and lawmakers in Germany and other countries are already pressing Washington for information about the collection of information that might affect their citizens’ privacy.
“We think that the United States should regard seriously the concerns and demands of the global community and people from all countries and furnish the global community with a necessary explanation,” Hua said at a regularly scheduled briefing.
Snowden flew to the Chinese autonomous region of Hong Kong on May 20 and is believed to still be there, though in hiding at an unknown location. China hasn’t said whether it would cooperate with any US demands for his extradition, and Hong Kong’s Western-style legal system that is distinct from that on the Chinese mainland allows opportunities for him to appeal.
US officials have defended the surveillance programmes as essential to disrupting terrorist plots.
Former vice-president Dick Cheney said on Sunday that he was “very, very worried” that Snowden would pass on sensitive information to China in return for immunity or sanctuary.
Asked whether Snowden was a Chinese spy or co-operating with Beijing, Hua answered, “This is complete nonsense.”
Max Keiser called Cheney out for being duplicitous as he was instrumental in selling American military equipment to China.
Addressing the backlash against him in the US, Snowden said much of it was predictable. He said: “It’s important to bear in mind I’m being called a traitor by men like former vice president Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American.”– Sapa-AP