Wed, Mar 09, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Hsieh backs constitutional retaliation

UPPING THE ANTE China is still being coy on details of its 'anti-secession' law, but the premier said there was already enough known to justify a strong response

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Tseng Tsan-teng, right, wears a mask along side fellow legislators Ho Min-hao, left, and Lo Chih-ming, as the TSU caucus holds a press conference yesterday. The TSU condemned China's proposed ''anti-secession'' law and asked President Chen Shui-bian to take countermeasures.

PHOTO: LIAO CHENG-HUI, TAIPEI TIMES

In response to yesterday's release of new details on China's "anti-secession" law, Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said that if China passes a law that poses an immediate danger to Taiwan and includes Taiwan in its territory, he would support amending the Constitution to counter the proposed legislation.

But Hsieh said the government would abide by the Constitution before any amendment is made and that the Executive Yuan would not itself move to revise the Constitution.

"The government has no reason to oppose [adverse] reaction to China's planned legislation because China will be held responsible for the consequences," he said.

An explanation yesterday of the draft law by Wang Zhaoguo (王兆國), vice-chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, provided a first glimpse of the bill's contents since it was first proposed in December. It is almost certain that the bill will be passed on Monday.

While the draft law's text has yet to be revealed in full, Wang made clear yesterday that Beijing reserved the right to implement "non-peaceful" means to resolve the cross-strait stalemate.

"Let us be absolutely clear that safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity is the core interest of our country ... We have never forsworn the use of force. No sovereign state can tolerate secession and every sovereign state has the right to use necessary means to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity," Wang said yesterday, according to the state mouthpiece, the People's Daily.

Wang stressed however that "so long as there is a glimmer of hope for peaceful reunification, we will exert our utmost to make it happen."

No details

Wang failed to list the circumstances that could result in the use of force, saying only that "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures" would be used "in the event that the `Taiwan independence' forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted."

Wang said the law would authorize the State Council and the Central Military Commission to decide on and then implement "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures, and promptly report to the Standing Committee of the NPC," the People's Daily said.

Wang's careful choice of words was noteworthy. He distinguished between "Taiwanese compatriots" and "Taiwanese independence forces," and repeatedly referred to "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures," avoiding direct references to military action.

"It needs to be stressed here that should the `Taiwan independence' forces insist on going their own way and leave us with no other option but to employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures, such means and measures would be completely targeted against the `Taiwan independence' forces rather [than] in any way against our Taiwan compatriots," Wang said.

Beijing also offered an explanation of the "status quo," saying the cross-strait situation was a remnant of the civil war and that the problem was a domestic one.

"The Taiwan question is one that is left over from China's civil war of the late 1940s. Solving the Taiwan question and achieving China's complete reunification is China's internal affair. On this question, we will not submit to any interference by outside forces," Wang said.

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