Sun, Mar 13, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Nation must unite against China

On Friday, as the countdown to the passage of China's "anti-secession" law continued, China sent an invitation to Taipei to negotiate on direct cross-strait charter flights for the April 5 tomb-sweeping holiday. Beijing's move suggests that it may have failed to fully grasp the sentiment of the Taiwanese. At the very least, it has misjudged the Taiwan government's position on the anti-secession law. This highlights how important it is for Taiwan to voice its opposition. Saying "no" to Beijing on charter flights is just a start.

According to the contents of the anti-secession bill that have come to light thus far, Beijing is still trying to draw a line between the people of Taiwan in general and its so-called "small minority of Taiwan independence forces," to create the illusion that the intended target of the law is just the latter. This is consistent with the near simultaneous issuance of a statement on Friday by Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), chief of the Chinese Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office, condemning the "Taiwan independence forces," and the invitation to negotiate over charter flights for Tomb-sweeping Day. The intended audience of the latter is supposedly the general public of Taiwan, rather than the so-called "independence forces."

Regardless of whether this is all part of a deliberate strategy to divide and conquer or the result of a serious misjudgment on Beijing's part, the people of Taiwan must make clear that the nation is absolutely unified in its opposition to the anti-secession law.

As a politically diverse and fully democratized society, Taiwanese people can and do differ on the issue of unification or independence. But over the years support for Taiwan's sovereignty has become the political mainstream. Even those who support unification do not want it to be unilaterally imposed by China, whether by military or other non-peaceful means. Across the political spectrum, Taiwanese people believe that they alone can decide the nation's future, through democratic means. That is why polls have consistently shown overwhelming opposition to the anti-secession law.

Unfortunately, some politicians, due to self-interest or party interests, have repeatedly sent the wrong signals to Beijing and the rest of the international community. The talk by politicians of respecting the "Republic of China" as defined in the Constitution -- a definition completely at odds with reality -- creates the impression that Taiwan considers itself part of China. That reinforces the perceived legitimacy of the anti-secession law's goal: to stop Taiwan from "splitting" from China.

On March 26 the people of Taiwan will take to the streets to protest against the anti-secession law. But because the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is running the event, the opposition pan-blue camp so far says it won't participate.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Lien Chan (連戰) even justified his refusal to participate by saying that the anti-secession law targets only "independence forces."

As for other pan-blue politicians such as Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who still has a political career to worry about, they seem reluctant or even embarrassed to take a stand against the law. Ma reportedly characterized the march as "provocative" -- though he denied saying any such thing. But asked for his reaction to another march organized by the KMT on March 19 to protest against the DPP government, Ma emphasized the nation's constitutionally protected right to assembly.

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