Wed, Dec 22, 2004 - Page 8 News List

It's time to draw our own red lines

By Hsu Yung-ming徐永明

A theory has emerged in discussion on cross-strait relations, which claims that the whole problem has nothing to do with China and is really all President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) fault.

Advocates of this theory say that the result of the recent legislative elections, in which the pan-blue camp held on to its majority, was a great relief to both the US and China, for the pan-blue camp was seen as a balancing force in the legislature, preventing the pan-green camp from going too far with calls for changing the national title and constitutional re-engineering. Looked at in this light, it would not be far-fetched to say that the pan-blue camp's ability to hold on to its majority was the result of international pressure.

But the pan-blue camp's so-called victory was shown to be totally hollow when People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) declared that his party had no intention of simply following the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) lead. And the naive belief that tensions across the Taiwan Strait would ease as a result of a pan-blue camp "victory" was given a short, sharp check when Beijing released plans for an anti-secession law. Not only has a new window of cross-strait dialogue failed to open, the apparent uncertainty of public opinion in Taiwan has caused China to place more pressure on Taiwan. China does not care whether the pan-green or the pan-blue camp has a majority; its only concern is whether or not Taiwan will submit to its will.

That's why Taiwan should protect itself on the legal front and pass an "anti-annexation law," which should, on the premise that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation, concern itself with any action that seeks to infringe on or reduce its current level of sovereignty. For example, the legislature should establish a system of levels of military threat, so that if the number of missiles targeting Taiwan exceeds a certain level, or if China uses some other method to strike Taiwan militarily, then this would trigger a red alert for annexation, and would immediately activate measures outlined in the "anti-annexation law."

A threat to Taiwan's sovereignty might not necessarily take a military form, for there is also the problem of Taiwan's isolation and marginalization on the international scene. As Beijing is poaching Taiwan's diplomatic allies, the "anti-annexation law" should provide for a minimum threshold of allies. If the number of allies falls below the threshold, then Taiwan's freedom to participate in international organizations and maneuver on the international stage will have reached a point so compromised that the provisions of the "anti-annexation law" should be activated.

Drawing red lines that others cannot cross should not be the preserve of the Americans and the Chinese. They should not always be the ones holding us by the throat and telling us that we are making trouble. Taiwan should also draw its own red line beyond which its survival is threatened. When this red line is crossed, then Taiwan is in danger of being annexed, and as a nation, it should use every method at its disposal to protect itself.

As to the actual provisions that would come into force as part of this law, these would have three levels. First would be persuasion. A legislative process would take effect and legislators would establish that the red line for Taiwan's survival had indeed been crossed and we would seek international recognition of this fact. On the legal front, we need to expand the provisions for a defensive referendum under the Referendum Law as a public defense mechanism against annexation. The third level is psychological preparation of the public: a social, economic and cultural early-warning system. Through the provision of information serving as the foundation of a social education program, the public will become increasingly aware of any changes to the status of Taiwan's sovereignty.

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