December 22, 2014 00:43 UTC

As It Is

Snowden Case Tests US-China Relations

A monitor in Hong Kong showis file footage of Edward Snowden, a former American intelligence worker.
A monitor in Hong Kong showis file footage of Edward Snowden, a former American intelligence worker.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story

Welcome to As It Is, the daily magazine show from VOA Learning English.
 
I’m Mario Ritter. Today, we hear about huge protests in South America’s largest nation and biggest economy, Brazil.
 
Demonstrations started when the government of President Dilma Rousseff announced plans to increase costs such as bus and train fares. At the same time, Brazil is spending large amounts of public money on sports stadiums and other projects in preparation for next year’s World Cup.
 
But we start with the continuing case of Edward Snowden. The flight of the former intelligence analyst to Hong Kong has tested relations between the world’s two largest economies.
 
The administration of President Barack Obama has strongly criticized Hong Kong and China for permitting Edward Snowden to leave its territory. This happened although there is an order, or warrant, for his arrest.
 
Administration spokesman Jay Carney said that all the legal requirements for having Edward Snowden returned to the United States had been fulfilled.
 
“The request that was made complied with all of the requirements of the US-Hong Kong surrender agreement. At no point in all of our discussions through Friday did the authorities in Hong Kong raise any issues regarding the sufficiency of the US’s provisional arrest request. In light of this we find their position to be particularly troubling.”
 
Jay Carney went on to say that the choice to permit Edward Snowden to leave Hong Kong would hurt ties between China and America.
 
“This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant and that decision unquestionably has a negative impact on the US-China relationship.”
 
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying offered a defense of his government’s decision to let Edward Snowden leave. He said the rules of the territory, which Britain returned to China in 1997, were observed.
 
“The people of Hong Kong expect Hong Kong to uphold its own laws including the basic law which was promulgated to uphold the principle of ‘one country, two systems:’ Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong and [a] high degree of autonomy. We were asking the United States government for further important information on the case, and there was no legal basis to stop Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.”
 
Edward Snowden is accused of leaking documents showing that United States intelligence services have gathered telephone and Internet information about citizens for years. He said he believes the programs violate the rights of American citizens.
 
Edward Snowden's suspected trail.Edward Snowden's suspected trail.
x
Edward Snowden's suspected trail.
Edward Snowden's suspected trail.
American officials say the surveillance programs were legal and prevented at least 50 terrorist attacks around the world since the attacks on the United States of September 11.
 
On Monday, Ecuador's foreign minister said Edward Snowden asked for asylum in his country.  Ricardo Patiño said his government has been in contact with Russia, where Edward Snowden is believed to have traveled after he left Hong Kong.

Protests in Brazil
 
Large protests have taken place in many cities in Brazil recently. Last Friday, the President of South America’s largest economy, Dilma Rousseff, spoke in an effort to end the unrest that has been spreading across the country. Jim Tedder tells us more.
 
Demonstrators take over part of one of the country's main highways, during a protest in Sao Jose dos Campos.Demonstrators take over part of one of the country's main highways, during a protest in Sao Jose dos Campos.
x
Demonstrators take over part of one of the country's main highways, during a protest in Sao Jose dos Campos.
Demonstrators take over part of one of the country's main highways, during a protest in Sao Jose dos Campos.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff promised to end huge street protests when she spoke on national television last week. She warned that continued unrest and violence could cause the country to lose a lot. She was talking about Brazil’s role as host of the World Cup soccer championship next year, and two years later, the 2016 Olympic Games.
 
The protests began when the government announced it would raise prices for public transportation. The increase angered people. They have seen the government spend billions of dollars on remodeling sports centers or building new ones for the coming international athletic events. At the same time, inflation has increased
 
The protests are the largest in Brazil in 20 years.
 
Demonstrations have been held in more than 80 cities. An estimated 300,000 people protested in Rio de Janeiro. Most marches have been peaceful. But some violence and strong police reactions have been reported.
 
The government suspended its plan to increase bus, train and subway fares and costs of road use. But the protests continue anyway.  Riordan Roett is with Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He says the middle class in Brazil is unhappy.
 
That middle class is growing, and they are mostly in southern Brazil where the population is centered. Riordan Roett says protesters are dissatisfied with the government of President Rousseff and her Workers Party, known as the PT.
 
“There has been a sense that the people who really run the country financially -- the south and southeast -- are getting the short end of the stick with lousy schools, terrible transportation, terrible medical care and a growing sense that Brasilia and the PT really don’t care about Sao Paulo, the south and the southeast of the country.”
 
While Brazilians love soccer, many are critical of the spending for the upcoming World Cup. Protests have continued during the Confederation Cup, a smaller international soccer competition which ends on June 30.
 
The demonstrators are demanding better medical care, sanitation, and security. Many also are angered by high taxes and government corruption.
 
Inflation in Brazil has increased. The rate is now over six percent, about two percent higher than the government’s target. At the same time, growth has slowed to less than three percent.
 
That puts pressure on President Rousseff’s government. It must prove to the public that current spending will lead to the improved services demanded by the expanding middle class.
 
Thank you for listening today. You can read and download our programs at learningenglish.voanews.com. And join us at the beginning of the hour Universal Time for the latest news.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: george from: Russia
06/29/2013 7:17 AM
Lie and cheating are profession in secret services. Why CIA wait for honesty and faithfulness of its staff?


by: BIJU.P.Y. from: SOUTH INDIA
06/27/2013 3:13 PM
It is undesirable to chase Mr. Snowden everywhere to get him punished. I think his fleeing itself is a kind of self declared punishment. By laiding his heart bare to the public, he was retiring himself into one of those millions who have the right to keep their privacy intact. Corruption degenerates society. Also, the English writer Agatha christy once remarked ' To have too much power is bad for women. It is difficult for a woman not to abuse power' can be applied to the Brazilian president. I think the majority of the Brazilian people are displeased with her government. Thank you.


by: Roberto from: Brazil
06/26/2013 6:07 PM
People in Brazil are tired of bad health, bad education, bad hospital, are tired to pay taxes and do not see return of that. I think corruption is the main cause of that. The young people are fight to see a better future.


by: Agnaldo Carvalho from: Brazil
06/26/2013 5:49 PM
I'm one of the millions who are going to the streets in Brazil to make a new country, because we are tired of seeing the corruption consume our Brazil. Now, I believe that the brazilian people wake up. The goverment are taking efforts to do what protesters want they do, and I think it's the begining of our victory. When the citizens fear the government, there's tyranny; when the government fear the citizens, there's freedom.

In Response

by: e-Vitae from: Hungary
07/03/2013 11:47 AM
(to Agnaldo Carvalho from Brazil):
"When the citizens fear the government, there's tyranny" - well, then Hungary is a perfect land of tyranny.
"the government fear the citizens, there's freedom. " - I don't agree. When members of government (and all politicians) know precisely that they are employees of citizens and the citizens know that their task is making the government know it precisely all the time - that is the basic element of freedom.

Learn with The News

  • Google Scrubbing Search Results

    Video What’s the Top 'Trending' Search This Year?

    At the top of Google’s top-trending searches list is Robin Williams, the American comedian and actor who died four months ago. The list also includes the World Cup, Ebola, Malaysia Airlines, ISIS and Flappy Bird. Chances are that more people have heard of the game Angry Birds than Flappy Bird. More

  • Obama College Sexual Assault

    Video How the US Deals with its Sexual Assault Problem

    A new study shows young women ages 18 to 24 are the most common targets of rape and sexual attack. Many Americans are dealing with the problem. They are hearing and reading about the issue, from awareness and activism at colleges to programs to fight it at the highest levels of government. More

  • Video Helping California’s Homeless

    Federal officials believe there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people nationwide on any given day. Each one lacks a permanent place to live. Reasons for homelessness can include the high cost of housing, poverty and unemployment. Other reasons are mental health problems and bad luck. More

  • Rice farmers in Cambodia tend to their crops. Some 12% of the country's paddy fields are believed to have been destroyed due to the flooding in Southeast Asia.

    Audio Cambodian, Thai Rice Voted Best in the World

    For the third straight year, the World Rice Conference has voted Cambodian rice as the world’s best. This year Cambodia shares the award with Thailand. Cambodia produced just one percent of the world’s rice in 2012. It is trying to increase that amount. The award may help. More

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and U.S. President Obama participate in a welcome ceremony for President Obama at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Audio Is China Starting to Live its Dream?

    Trust in the American dream may be disappearing. But halfway around the world, a new dream has been gaining strength -- the Chinese dream. To be exact: President Xi Jinping’s Chinese dream. But, what is the Chinese dream? And how has President Xi started to make his dream for the country a reality? More

Featured Stories

  • Obama National Christmas Tree

    Audio The History of Christmas in America

    In the first half of the 19th century, Christmas was a very different kind of holiday than it is today. People did not have a set way of celebrating. Christmas was not even an official holiday yet. More

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

  • A microneedle used to inject glaucoma medications into the eye is shown next to a liquid drop from a conventional eye dropper. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

    Audio Tiny Needles Treat Eye Disease

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. In the United States, more than two million people suffer from the disease. Now, researchers are developing very small needles that may offer a more effective and painless treatment for glaucoma and other eye diseases. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs