The United States needs to clamp down on China after national security contractor Edward Snowden was allowed to leave Hong Kong Sunday, says GOP Rep. Peter King of New York.
"There are no easy answers as far as dealing with China or Hong Kong, certainly with China," King told CNN Monday
. "I think as far as tipping the balance, we have to take a much tougher attitude with China . . . We have to step back and say, 'Business cannot go on as usual.'"
Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Russia Sunday night. King maintains that China played a role in Hong Kong's decision to allow Snowden to depart, despite U.S. extradition requests. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China with its own government.
"I think that China and Hong Kong both blatantly went against the wishes of the United States," King said. "This was strictly a political decision, and I can't believe Hong Kong would have made it without China encouraging it or certainly acquiescing in it."
King says it's President Barack Obama's responsibility to take China to task.
"This is really up to the president to be more aggressive and to know how to play his cards better than I think he has up until now," he said. "Again, I hate to be in the middle of a crisis second guessing the president, but where is he? Why is he not speaking to the American people? Why is he not more forceful in dealing with foreign leaders?"
Obama has mishandled the whole National Security Agency (NSA) controversy, King says.
"From the start of this whole NSA matter, the president should have been out front. . . . The president has to explain to the American people why, if he believes we're back in pre-9/11, why we're using such advanced post-9/11 techniques and methods," King said.
"He's been silent. He should be the leader, he should be out — not talking about it in Berlin — speaking to the American people, and the same is overdue to let the Chinese and Russians know how serious we are about this," King said.
As for China, White House press secretary Jay Carney cited "our frustration and disappointment with Hong Kong and China" Monday, The New York Times reports
. Carney called their decision to let Snowden go a "serious setback" to relations.
Even Democrats acknowledge that Obama has little influence over how Chinese President Xi Ping and Russian President Vladimir Putin handle the Snowden affair.
Obama's recent "charm offensive" with Xi and Putin may not matter much on this one, former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman of California, who now runs the Woodrow Wilson International Center, told The Washington Post
The U.S. has "very little leverage," because it needs cooperation from Russia and China on so many issues, ranging from Syria to Iran to North Korea, she said. "This isn't happening in a vacuum, and obviously China and Russia know that."
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