The Snowden case has climbed the news charts rapidly in China over the past 72 hours. On Monday, June 10, there was just one story logged for the keyword “Snowden” (斯诺登) in mainland Chinese newspapers and newswires (WiseNews Database). That story, from China News Service — the country’s number two official newswire after Xinhua — ran under the headline, “American Intelligence Surveillance Case Whistleblower is Hiding in Hong Kong, Fears Capture.”
Today, June 13, there are 64 stories in China called up by the keyword “Snowden.” For those of you who need the simple visual, the four day news curve looks like this:
Looking at today’s coverage, it seems there is a mix of sources, although the major ones cited are still Xinhua News Agency, China News Service and People’s Daily Online (most of these based on foreign news coverage). Commercial newspapers seem to have been given a green light — or, at the very least, the light is stuck on yellow — and they are taking advantage, some using foreign news sources liberally.
China News Service has released 16 separate reports today on the case. Headlines include: “International View: Revelation of ‘Surveillance-Gate’ Puts the US Government in a Tight Spot”; “American ‘Surveillance-Gate’ Whistleblower: China and Hong Kong Have Long Been Targets of US Surveillance”; “Snowden Surfaces Again to Make Clear: He is Neither a Traitor Nor a Hero”; “Whistleblower Hiding in Hong Kong is a Test of US-China Relations: America Vexed By Whistleblower”; “Chinese Media Say America Has Extended the Hand of Anti-Terrorism Too Far.”
First Financial Daily (第一财经日报) appears to be the only newspaper that chose to put the Snowden story on its front page today [See right-hand column].
The news column, under the headline “Empire of Surveillance” (监视帝国), is written by Pan Yinru (潘寅茹), and summarizes many of the details in the Snowden case reported by international media over the past few days. The reporter, for example, introduces the NSA’s “boundless informant” program on the basis of “information this reporter obtained directly from the website of the Guardian newspaper.”
In an article on page A20 today, the Southern Metropolis Daily draws on numerous foreign news sources, including televised reports by ABC and CBS, to summarize the Snowden case and the “Prism” program. It reports also on the legal action filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the US government.
The liberal use of American news sources by Chinese media adds perhaps a touch of irony to the case. Back in April, Chinese authorities tightened restrictions on the use of information from foreign media and websites. But here is the China News Service today in a report called, “US Whistle-blowing Hero Hiding in Hong Kong Becomes Problem in US-China Relations.” The report is based unashamedly on coverage by China’s Global Times newspaper that relies in turn on foreign news reporting:
America’s Wall Street Journal says that “the fate of the leaker of US surveillance programs may rest with Beijing” . . . Voice of America raised doubts on June 11th . . .
Voice of Russia said on June 11th that a number of American experts believe that Snowden could be a priceless secret informant if he was transfered to [the custody] of Beijing. The same day, America’s Foreign Policy journal said “Snowden would not become an intelligence asset for China” . . .
America’s Los Angeles Times on June 11th called Snowden “Hong Kong’s most famous refugee” . . .
On page 13 today, Shenzhen’s Daily Sunshine (晶报) runs a piece patched together from CNN’s interviews with Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist and Guardian columnist who has been central to the Snowden revelations, and the Guardian‘s Ewan MacAskill.
The Shenzhen Commercial News runs the Snowden story on page eight today with the headline, “Europe Seeks Explanation from America” (欧洲向美国讨说法). The story is sourced from Xinhua and People’s Daily Online. “Snowden is a Hero!” declares the image accompanying the report.
Whether or not Snowden is a hero, of course, is a matter of divided opinion. But as China New Service faithfully reports — relying, naturally, on a Reuters/Ipsos poll — one in three Americans see Snowden as a patriot.