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Should China Consider Giving Snowden Asylum?

July 9th, 2013 7 comments

As Snowden considers asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, and perhaps mulls a second application to Russia (Putin had earlier said if Snowden wanted to apply asylum there, he’d have to stop releasing NSA leaks), should China Consider Giving Snowden Asylum?

By the answers, I am hoping to gauge people’s attitude toward Snowden.  For me, I am neutral.  I personally have nothing against government “snooping.”  I have nothing to hide in general.  As long as they don’t pick on me for little trivial things (I trust governments generally enough that they wouldn’t), I have nothing against government tapping, government cameras, government sucking of emails, etc.  So what Snowden has revealed does not hit me in the stomach on that level.

However, I believe what Snowden has revealed is important in a geopolitical context.  Previously, we thought of the Internet as “free” – run by innovative Stalwart companies devoted to freedom, free from government interference.  Now we know the vastness of what we consider to be “free internet” is merely a very nationalized network space that is compatible with one specific set of values and that is at the core of 21st century geopolitical competition.

That’s an important insight for humanity to know.

So – should China…?

As Snowden weighs his not very stellar asylum choices, should China give asylum if given a chance?

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[Editor’s Note: clarification added 2013-07-09]: From the above write-up about “geopolitical context,” one might misunderstand me as saying that what Snowden has to say has no relevance to Americans and relevance only to the rest of the world.  That’s not what I meant.  To the extent Americans are world citizens, they should care.  They should understand so they understand why the information they get online in the so-called free internet (and also why the information they get in the so-called free media, why their very perspective about the world, about history) may be so biased and American (or Western)-centric.  And then perhaps they may understand why so many things they had taken to be Universal may just be American (or Western)-centric.  What Snowden revealed, and he may not even understand it, is to change the paradigm by which we view the world by revealing a blindspot we had universally taken for granted.  Others have noted the dangers of relying on “google” for all information on the net – because that essentially allows one entity – which is not beholden to the “people” per se – to define our knowledge, our worldview, our identity…  It is equally dangerous to rely on the falsehood of a universal, free internet for our information because there is no such thing as a universal internet.  Language and cultural barriers would have fragmented it fr0m the start – though now we see politics from the U.S. already set it up to fragment from the very beginning, too.