Wed, Jan 19, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Reacting to the anti-secession law

By Chang Jung-feng 張榮豐

Late last year, the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC) submit-ted a request that the draft anti-secession law be reviewed at the third meeting of the 13th NPC, which is to be held in March. Even though China still hasn't publicized the text of the draft, this article will attempt to analyze China's possible intentions with this law and its possible effects from the perspective of game-theory, strategy and the civil war between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

From a game-theory perspective, Taiwan advocates, or doesn't advocate, independence, while China advocates, or doesn't advocate, a military attack on Taiwan. This is sufficient to set up a simple game-theory model. Looking to the 1950s experience, the situation where this model results in neither independence nor military attack seems to be a pure Nash solution.

But in recent years, with the gradual modernization of China's national defense that has followed its economic development, and the surging awareness of Taiwan's sovereignty that has resulted from Taiwan's democratization, the game-theory model has changed. It has moved gradually away from a pure Nash solution, instead trans-forming it into a hybrid solution, which is more uncertain. This is also the reason why the US has been saying lately that it does not want to see either of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait implement unilateral changes to the cross-strait status quo.

China's push for anti-secession legislation means that it is making a subgame commitment to the above game, which lacks a pure Nash solution. It is, in other words, a strategic action. A sub-game commitment is a strategic restriction to one's own actions aimed at changing the rules of a game or the payoff for each party.

In other words, China is using the anti-secession law to achieve its goal of deterring Taiwan from declaring independence. If it had created a unification law, China would have restricted itself because it is currently too weak to pressure Taiwan into accepting the "one country, two systems" model. This is the reason why China is adopting the anti-secession law approach.

The mid- to longterm effects of this law will be that once China wins the right to define and interpret what constitutes secessionist action, it will only be a matter of time before it pressures Taiwan into choosing between unification through military means or the "one country, two systems" model. It would be better for Taiwan to focus on China's possible actions between now and the period after the March meeting of the NPC, where the anti-secession legislation will be passed. The options are described in the following.

During the first stage, the period up to the NPC meeting, the main focus will be on lobbying for support from the US and other countries. The second stage will include the NPC's discussion of the text, its formulation and calculating the different aspects of anti-secessionist behavior. Definitions will be fuzzy and flexible to avoid being restricted, but punishment will be clear.

The third stage, if the law is passed, will be dedicated to intense international propaganda to inform Taiwan and other concerned countries of the law's strategic message. The fourth and final stage will be the stage of deterrence. If any particular event takes place in Taiwan (such as the creation of a constitution or a general election), China will mobilize its paid academics and media to disseminate the Beijing leadership's analyses of whether Taiwan's behavior violates the anti-secession law in order to deter Taiwan.

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