After the Chinese National People's Congress enacted the "Anti-Secession" Law on Monday, the Taiwanese people have been outraged. Many countries, including the US and Japan, have voiced serious criticism as well, demonstrating that most people still know in their hearts what is right and wrong.
The official response of the government came out on Wednesday. President Chen Shui-bian (
At the same time, Chen called on the people, saying that they must not choose to remain silent or stand idly by in the face of evil, and that the opposition and ruling camps must be unified in taking the streets on March 26 to demonstrate the collective will of the people.
In his talk on Wednesday, in addition to making appeals to the other side of the Taiwan Strait from the standpoints of democracy, liberty and human rights -- three areas in which Taiwan has major accomplishments -- Chen also asked the international community to give due attention to Chinese military expansion and aggressive ambitions. He went on to emphasize that members of the international community must not become the accomplices of an aggressor, and that the lifting of the arms embargo by the EU is without justification.
The people of Taiwan now have two hopes: one, for the ruling and opposition camps to leave behind their differences in standing up to the common enemy; two, in standing up for the people's rights hand-in-hand, so as to speak out in defense of Taiwan's interests with one voice. Not only should the ruling and opposition camps take the lead in the march scheduled for March 26, but in facing the series of challenges to Taiwan in the days to come, both camps should act selflessly and leave behind their past rivalry and grudge.
Everyone must work together for the greater interest of the country. In addition, at a time when the international community feels sympathetic toward the predicament of Taiwan, both the ruling and opposition camps must come to the realization that the interests of the country come above those of the parties.
Things change rapidly within the international community. All camps must do their best in seeking the backing of the international community and think together about how to act proactively and strengthen the strategic position of this country, so as to win over international military and political support.
Some people have asked what the big deal is about the enactment of the law by China, seeking to play down the significance of the whole thing.
In particular, after Chinese President Hu Jintao (
After we carefully examine the content of the law and the words of Hu and Wen, we believe that there has been a structural change in the cross-strait relationship, and that Taiwan cannot afford to ignore it. The law is noteworthy in the following respects:
First, it explicitly treats the "Taiwan issue" as an internal affair of China and even states that the lives and properties of the Taiwanese people should be protected during wartime.
Second, it excludes all options others than "one country, two systems," such as federation, confederacy, union, the East and West German model, and the United Kingdom model. At the same time, it compresses the negotiation space between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to be within the "one China" principle framework.
Third, it authorizes the use of force (ie, "non-peaceful means"). As a result, China is given the right to interpret all the ambiguities in the cross-strait relationship. In other words, the Chinese decision-makers get to call all the shots.
The above-listed features of the anti-secession law will necessarily lead to the following outcomes:
First, the "authorization for war" in the law impacts not only Taiwan, but also the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of the US and even directly challenges the joint statement on "common strategic direction" issued by the US and Japan on Feb. 19, revealing the hegemonic mentality of China in the process;
Second, according to the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, Taiwan is a country complete with sovereignty. The treaty indicates that the existence of a new country or new government does not depend on recognition by other countries. Therefore, Taiwan is a sovereign country under public international law, and therefore its people have the absolute right to decide their own future. What right does China have to draft a domestic law to regulate and restrict the autonomy of the people of Taiwan?
When the free will of the people of Taiwan is subjected to interference, they will naturally seek a channel to relieve their frustration and their level of resentment will grow.
Third, according to the speeches made by Hu and Wen, after China enacted the law, Beijing will work hard to try and win over the support of Taiwan's business and industrial sectors, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises and the farmers in central and southern Taiwan.
Taiwan must respond carefully. In the days to come, the pressure from the business sector on the government promoting unification may increase. On the other hand, Beijing will most certainly ask Taiwanese businesspeople to strictly abide by the principle of "no advocacy for Taiwan's independence." It may even expand the provisions of the regulation on "protection of investments by Taiwanese compatriots," which authorizes the Chinese government to forfeit the investments of Taiwan businesspeople based on "the social and public interest" and to provide corresponding compensation.
An expansive interpretation of the provision could of course treat perceived advocacy of Taiwan's independence as a violation of the "public interest."
Fourth, the enactment of the law is also obviously intended to send warnings to the US and Japan. The provisions of the law implying that China may launch a war against Taiwan explicitly states that it could happen regardless of "foreign interference."
The goal is to warn the US and Japan to refrain from supporting Taiwan's independence, and to "counter" the TRA with the Anti-Secession Law. In the foreseeable future, when the US declares its obligations toward Taiwan under the TRA, Beijing will surely uses the law as a bargaining chip on the Taiwan Strait issue.
The US and Japan naturally knows very well about the intentions of China. Although the US government has kept a low profile about the Chinese enactment of the law, it obviously has responses in mind about the intention of China to expand militarily into the Taiwan Strait. The attitude of Japan is even clearer.
According to a news story published by a local news media in Japan on Wednesday, the Japanese Defense Agency will dispatch troops to take up station on two small islands very close to Taiwan. The troops are, of course, not intended to take the offensive. However, its goal is obviously to monitor military movements in the waters near Taiwan.
Facing these key structural changes in the cross-strait relationship, can the opposition and ruling camps remain reluctant any further? They need to act wisely and seize on a rare chance for change with a broader horizon. Therefore, Taiwan must call on the ruling and opposition camps to speak against the Anti-Secession Law together. The opposition parties must not evade participation in the March 26 march. They must take the lead.
In addition, the ruling and opposition parties must immediately call for a meeting to seek a solution acceptable by all with respect to the crisis and the opportunities for change.
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