Snowden found the safest place on the planet in Russia - Jiang Xiaofeng
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.
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!
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!
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!
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