Ever since The Guardian and The Washington Post broke the news about PRISM on June 6, the US government have conducted a propaganda campaign to both discredit Snowden and convince public opinion of PRISM’s good intentions. Snowden first fleeing to China’s Special Administrative Region Hong Kong, placed China uniquely on the frontline of the US-Snowden espionage scandal. Radio Free Asia (RFA) the US mouth piece in China, North Korea and the Golden Triangle has attempted to persuade Asian opinion, over PRISM’s innocence.
RFA often called a CIA-front and accused of causing subversive activity by the Chinese government, has fared a similar criticism across the region. How close a relationship there is between the CIA and RFA is uncertain, but Radio Liberty its longer running sister channel was started in 1949 by powerful right wing anti-communist American’s and received considerable funding from the CIA. Despite having their radio show and website blocked in China, or at least currently due to the riots in Xinjiang, the message still manages to get out by all those tech savvy netizens, who know how to bypass the “Great Firewall.”
Obviously not wanting to convict themselves by mentioning intricate details of PRISM and Chinese hacking, RFA has instead taken to self-censorship and spinning the story to reflect the blame back on China. The Cantonese version, fully aware of their inability to convince the whole of Hong Kong, published many stories and put a positive spin on PRISM, which was also the case with RFA’s Vietnamese service. The Vietnamese unlike other Southeast Asian countries have a strong anti-Chinese sentiment and growing US diplomatic relations, so as much as it reflects badly on the US, it also reflects worse on China. The Mandarin section, which is aimed at mainland China, published three articles related to Snowden which can be viewed here, here and here. Two of the articles discuss Snowden’s extradition, but avoid discussing PRISM, or hacking altogether and the third article discusses the criminal charges brought upon Sinovel the Chinese wind turbine manufacture for theft of intellectual property rights. However, one of the articles has been edited, maybe for censorship reason, were it claimed many American’s agree with PRISM.
The English versions gave a very different picture, publishing four stories which painted Snowden as a criminal and deflected the blame instead on China for both harbouring him and their own web monitoring, these can be read here, here, here and here. The latest article focuses on a lawyer Xie Yanyi, who has apparently penned an open letter “calling for greater transparency over China’s monitoring of the Internet.” The article barely mentioning Snowden, or PRISM and instead deflects attention away from the US web monitoring and back on to China.