Tue, Mar 15, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Taiwan must act, but carefully

China has passed the "anti-secession" law despite vehement protests in Taiwan and objections from the international community. The actual wording of the law mentions the use of "non-peaceful" means -- a euphemism for military action. The law insists on Beijing's right to use "non-peaceful" means to counter any moves towards independence and to bring about unification. For all intents and purposes, it is a license to go to war.

The anti-secession law is plagued with errors. First, it is bellicose while claiming to promote peace. This claim hardly fits the reality. China says the law is seeking "peaceful reunification and `one country, two systems,'" but the whole world knows the real intention is to threaten Taiwan. It's no wonder that 93 percent of Taiwanese oppose it, making a joke of China's contention that it "puts its hope in the Taiwanese people."

Second, the law was introduced in an attempt to meddle in Taiwan's domestic politics as a counter to the constitutional reform movement during last year's presidential election. Unexpectedly, the legislative elections in December and the meeting between President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) changed Taiwan's political climate, pushing Taipei in the direction of a "constitutional `one China.'"

China was not expecting this to happen when it introduced the anti-secession bill, but it was too late for it to turn back, and this law has now killed a great opportunity for cross-strait reconciliation. Thus, the timing of the legislation resulted in a significant dilemma, with Beijing adopting a "correct" stance using an incorrect strategy.

The law's most egregious flaw is its violation of the international community's consensus about "maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait," whereby Taiwan should not declare independence and China should not use force. The law crosses the line. Even if Taiwan does not declare independence, if China decides that independence is taking place, Taiwan is being interfered with by "foreign forces," or the "possibilities for peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted" -- as Article VIII states -- Beijing can attack Taiwan.

Taiwan should react in a peaceful, rational way. Options include mass protests and long-term legal and constitutional moves, such as the following.

First, launch an "anti- `anti-secession'" movement. All political parties should join the demonstration scheduled for March 26, to tell the world that Taiwan's sovereignty belongs to the 23 million people living here.

Second, initiate greater contact with the international media to promote Taiwan's position and clarify that its sovereignty does not belong to China.

Third, enact an "anti-annexation" law. The legislature should show the international community that Taiwan and China are two separate political entities.

Fourth, hold a "preventive referendum" establishing the broad support of the Taiwanese people for self-determination. The people must demonstrate that they resist any non-peaceful means of unification.

Fifth, reform the Constitution to distinguish it from China's. In so engaging in this propaganda and diplomatic war that has been forced upon it, Taiwan will then be able to keep from being entrapped in the mire of "one China" rhetoric.

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