US-China relations tense over Snowden

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Carney dismissed Hong Kong’s legal justification for allowing Snowden to leave — “we do not buy the suggestion that China could not have taken action” — and said there would be consequences.

“The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust,” Carney said. “And we think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback. If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem. And that is a point we are making to them very directly.”

The escalating tensions threaten to derail President Obama’s careful outreach to newly elected Chinese President Xi Jinping, which began earlier this month with a summit in California.

A former senior NSA official said Carney’s statement “reflects the strong sentiment that the Chinese did mess up on this.”

“There’s no way around it. The Chinese messed up,” the official said. “This is a real screwup on their part, and it’s not helpful and was not in the same vein as the recent summit in California [between Obama and Xi].

“This does put a chill on things after the warmth of California. There’s going to need to be some real heart-to-heart in the coming weeks and months.”

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