Sun, Dec 26, 2004 - Page 1 News List

China set to review anti-secession bill

CROSS-STRAIT TIES China's NPC Standing Committee could review the proposed bill today, while officials here reiterated that it would unilaterally alter the status quo


While China's highest legislative body yesterday began deliberations on an agenda that includes the closely watched anti-secession bill, reports yesterday said the bill itself would not be reviewed until today, at the earliest.

As of press time yesterday, China's state-run Xinhua newswire reported only that a draft of the anti-secession bill would be deliberated during a session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) that began yesterday and will continue until Wednesday. The bill is the seventh of 20 items on the agenda.

Although Taiwanese officials had expected the bill to be looked at as early as yesterday, Tsang Hin-chi (曾憲梓), a Hong Kong member of the Standing Committee of the NPC, told the Central News Agency that it was unlikely.

Tsang refrained from elaborating on the content of the bill, but said that it would be reviewed today.

If the draft bill clears the Standing Committee, it will be handed to the NPC in the spring of next year for approval.

Once it clears the legislative branch, the bill must be approved by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) before it can be officially enacted. Analysts say the bill could be implemented in March at the earliest.

While Chinese authorities have been secretive about the details of the bill, Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po (文匯報) reported yesterday that an unnamed authoritative source in Beijing said the bill was primarily meant to establish a legal basis for China's Taiwan policy.

The bill is meant to ensure a unified China and cross-strait peace and provide a legal basis for the use of "non-peaceful" means in handling disagreements with Taiwan when left with no choice, the report quoted the source as saying.

The Central News Agency also reported from Beijing yesterday that a source said the bill's preamble states that "Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People's Republic of China. The sacred task of completely unifying the motherland belongs to all Chinese people, including the Taiwanese compatriots."

However, the proposed bill has been seen as a serious provocation to cross-strait relations here. National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) said yesterday that the bill posed two serious problems: it would allow China to define the boundaries of legality and illegality, and China would be able to punish those who trespass the law's stipulations. As such, the bill provided a legal basis for a military attack, he said.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) also reiterated yesterday that the bill was a serious provocation.

"If this bill is enacted, it will prove to be in conflict with cross-strait stability. It will unilaterally change the status quo. This is something that will be very hard for Taiwan to tolerate," Wu said.

Wu and his deputies have appeared on several television and radio shows for interviews this past week, each time reiterating that the anti-secession bill indicates China's hostility and calling on the international community to recognize that it is China, and not Taiwan, that is moving to change the status quo unilaterally.

Wu said that the unification law the Chinese authorities had touted in the past was unacceptable to people here because it assumed a specific end result, namely unification. He said that the anti-secession law went even further, assuming that China and Taiwan are unified.

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