After several days of relative silence on the issue, Chinese state news media Thursday highlighted revelations that the United States government was engaged in widespread monitoring of Internet and telephone communications, carrying reports suggesting the disclosures could damage relations between the two countries.
The disclosures come at an uncomfortable time for American officials, just after President Obama pressed for Beijing's cooperation in curtailing Chinese cyberespionage. Chinese government officials have refrained from directly criticizing the United States on the disclosures, but the state news media have been reporting on the controversy.
"The massive U.S. global surveillance program revealed by a former National Security Agency employee in Hong Kong is certain to stain Washington's overseas image and test developing Sino-U.S. ties," said an article in the state-run newspaper China Daily, citing analysts. It quoted Li Haidong, a researcher of American studies at China Foreign Affairs University, warning of the impact the disclosure could have on relations between the United States and China.
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"For months, Washington has been accusing China of cyberespionage, but it turns out that the biggest threat to the pursuit of individual freedom and privacy in the U.S. is the unbridled power of the government," Mr. Li was quoted as saying.
Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. computer technician who disclosed the surveillance, is now believed to be in Hong Kong, which is administered by China but has a large degree of legal autonomy.