Unacceptable US spying

Updated: 2013-11-01 07:16

(China Daily)

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With the NSA eavesdropping scandal continuing to unfold and revealing an increasing number of the United States friends have been victimized, the exposure of alleged Special Collection Service units of the US spy network on Chinese soil came as no surprise.

To many Americans, we are at the very best a potential rival, if not an enemy, despite all the official rhetoric about partnership.

According to the German weekly Der Spiegel, SCS cells operate in five Chinese cities -Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei.

The White House has some explaining to do because such establishments and activities are illegal in nature and not covered by diplomatic immunity. Nor are there any known bilateral agreements allowing their existence.

Decision-maker ignorance, as was the case in US President Barack Obama's reply to reports on the NSA's alleged snooping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone, will not be an acceptable excuse.

It is doubtful that, as the final user of the intelligence collected by the omnipresent US spy apparatus, the US president doesn't, even occasionally, verify the source of the information.

And never tell us they are here to fight terrorism. While this country has been contributing in all earnest to the global war on terror, its own vulnerability to terrorism has hardly been a concern to the US. Washington has consistently blinded itself to the existence of terrorist threats in and to the country's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Attacks from such terrorists, which have claimed hundreds of lives in recent years, have, more often than not, been beautified as a rebellion against the "repression of religious freedom" or "discriminative policies".

Nor is the SCS necessary in China to address US safety concerns. American people, with spies as one of the rare exceptions, are safe and welcome in those cities and the country in general. So if national security is the "one purpose" of US national security operations, as Obama told his home audience the other day, he can rest assured and save money by recalling the SCS staff from China.

While the American intelligence system is given overwhelming authority to carry out surveillance operations at home under the US Patriot Act, this land is China.

Given the lasting worries about terrorist threats on the other side of the Pacific, the SCS people will find themselves more useful and welcome at home.

(China Daily 11/01/2013 page8)