Top Secrets

On the day when the US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden announced to the world how the US has been spying on its competitors as well as its allies through traditional and modern technology, everyone – the media pundits in this country as well as diplomats from other countries — acted astounded and perhaps enraged.

The US government is reportedly sweeping up Internet data and millions of Americans’ phone records in its search for foreign terrorists. In addition, according to Snowden, the NSA has been hacking China for some years, including targets in both Hong Kong and mainland China.

Although as I write this, Snowden is still at large, discussion about the cyber-attacks between the US and China continues. If you click on the Chinese online forums, you will find Snowden has more supporters than enemies in China. Chinese people praise Snowden’s courage and honesty.

Imagine if there were a Chinese Snowden confessing the ruling party’s top secrets to the world, do you think he would still be alive? I bet the Chinese government will hunt him down as hard as the US searched for bin Laden.

Despite the harm that Snowden may have caused to the US national defense, Americans seem to have different opinions about their personal information being collected by the federal government. If you ask any American whether she thinks its accectable for her government to spy on her, unless she is a desperately-show-off person like a reality show star, most of them would say no.

Yet, the popularity of the social media such as Facebook and Twitter tells me that Americans are careless – and scareless — about protecting their own personal information. Are they aware that the pictures they posted online or the personal information they left on a webpage may someday be misused? Given the fact that Americans are so sharing, it does not make it hard for NSA to spy on any individual. Just a simple click on Google, you may find some surprises about yourself.

The Snowden affair has rippled through the governments of a number of big nations. One diplomat said that there are no eternal friends and no perpetual enemies, but permanent interests in international relations. I don’t think the US government will stop the spying despite the protests from the European Union. I do hope China and the US will become, even only temporarily, friends rather than foes. Since the secrets of both countries have leaked, thanks to Snowden, let the two nations work together for everyone’s best interests.

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