Since Beijing announced its decision to implement its "anti-secession" law, the backlash against the law has not ceased at home and abroad. Taiwan's governing and opposition parties in particular are apprehensive. Regrettably, Chinese democracy activists, on the contrary, seem relatively uncritical of the proposed law.
In comparison with momentum recently demonstrated in collective causes such as protecting personal rights, opposing persecution and mourning deposed Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽), Chinese democracy activists have kept an overly low profile in response to this anti-secession legislation, a major political event.
The failure of Chinese democracy activists to comment on the anti-secession law does not mean they identify with what Beijing is doing to Taiwan, nor does it mean that they are reluctant to criticize China's leadership. Rather, they are not taking this move by Beijing too seriously, seeing it as indicative of the fact that Beijing is at a loss on what to do about the Taiwan question.
Furthermore, on the surface, China's proposed anti-secession law at the very least upholds the goal of "the unification of the motherland." If they come down on China's leadership or even overdo their criticism, Beijing will label them as "supporting Taiwan independence." Therefore, whether or not to address, criticize and protest the law has to be dealt with carefully and cautiously.
In fact, no matter what stance the Chinese democracy activists hold on the Taiwanese government and Taiwan's independence activists, the decision to enact the law should serve to remind Chinese democracy activists all over the world to be on alert, and they should show their objection to it.
First, from the perspective of democracy and the rule of law, the anti-secession law is the product of Beijing's dictatorial decision-making mechanism. The process of legislation, in particular, was neither sufficiently deliberated nor was it decided by vote. In view of the fact that the Republic of China has enjoyed de facto independence for a long period of time and that the Chinese regime does not have jurisdiction over the island, the People's Republic of China's intention to deter Taiwan independence forces through enacting a domestic law seems, logically speaking, quite ridiculous.
Instead, the law is being enacted out of a political necessity to counter Taiwan independence and promote reunification, and was forcefully passed through special procedures within a period of several months. The process itself has not only shown a lack of respect for the basic rights of people in China, it is a mockery of the Chinese leadership's pretence of governing and developing the nation by the rule of law.
Second, from the perspective of human rights, the law is greatly disrespectful to the rights and feelings of Taiwanese people.
Although Chinese democracy activists still dispute whether Taiwanese people are entitled to hold a referendum on independence, people in any region of the globe should have the right to resort to referendums to explicitly express their intention to be independent, as well as to declare independence through self-determination when faced with circumstances such as domestic rebellion, war and persecution.
Otherwise, it is tantamount to a deprivation of freedom of speech, personal safety and well-being.
Third, from the perspective of the people on either side of the Strait, the law will certainly consolidate Taiwanese people's will to counter the law and further deepen the rift between both sides. Meanwhile, it will obstruct the possibility for both sides to resolve issues of independence and unification through a more flexible approach, which is not only detrimental to the reconciliation and unification of all Chinese but also an obstacle to the realization of a future "one China."
Fourth, from the perspective of politics, the law will surely be utilized to limit the compassion and support of Chinese people at home and abroad for the freedom of Taiwanese people.
On the legal front, other than fomenting subversion, all Chinese will be subject to accusations of supporting the splitting of the nation.
From a long-term perspective, not only is it going to be increasingly difficult for China to transform itself into a society that espouses democracy, the rule of law, freedom and tolerance, the law will also severely deprive all Chinese democracy activists of the freedom to act and protest. If the anti-autocratic forces react passively, they must be prepared to accept the consequences.
Fifth, from the perspective of cross-strait strategy, the law is by no means a measure to promote peace but a preparation for war with Taiwan.
The enactment of the law is going to greatly aggravate the already strained cross-strait relations and seriously escalate the danger of the outbreak of war. The decision to enact the law is obviously made by communist hardliners and endorsed by China's ambitious leadership.
The passage of the law will be to the advantage of militant forces.
The gesture is also a political signal that the hawks have gained the upper hand within the Chinese Communist Party; or it might mean that China's current leadership lacks strategic judgment and rational thinking.
Judging from human history, similar laws threatening other countries with force, authorizing the government in advance to wage war, have always failed to realize the ideal of "drawing a line to avoid war."
Rather, the decision to enact the law leaves no leeway for either side and may lead to the tragedy of military confrontation.
The barbaric anti-secession law is enacted by an authoritarian regime and imposed on all Chinese people. Not only will it be perpetually detrimental to the prospects for Chinese democracy, the rule of law and human rights, it will also restrict, alienate, eradicate and savage democracy forces in the greater Chinese community.
To go all-out to oppose this anti-secession law, Chinese democracy activists do not have much time to lose. It is high time that they took action.
An Yan is a Canada-based Chinese democracy activist and writer. TRANSLATED BY DANIEL CHENG
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