Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 3 News List

`Anti-Secession' law a crisis, and an opportunity

COUNTERPRODUCTIVE Analysts agreed that the law has already backfired on Beijing, and has given President Chen a chance to unite public opinion

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

"When written in Chinese the word `crisis' is composed of two characters; one represents danger and the other represents opportunity."

So said former US President John F. Kennedy in a speech delivered in April 1959.

China's passage of the "Anti-Secession" law, which formally authorizes the use of "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan if all possibility of unification has been exhausted, has stirred an outcry in Taiwan. Some have expressed grave concern over heightened tensions in cross-strait relations as a result of Beijing's unilateral enactment of the law.

"In my view, while China's enactment of the Anti-Secession Law does not exactly constitute an imminent crisis per se, it does provide an opportunity for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in terms of domestic politics," said Chiu Hei-yuan (瞿海源), a political analyst and sociology professor at National Taiwan University.

"First of all, China's Anti-Secession Law gives Chen a very good opportunity to say that Taiwan is not proclaiming independence but it does not want to be annexed by China," Chiu said.

To sound out people's opposition to the law, a rally has been organized by the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) this Saturday in Taipei.

"Judging from the groups thus far who have publicized their participation in the demonstration -- including those in business and academia -- it seems that China's Anti-Secession Law has helped unite the people of Taiwan and given Chen a chance to demonstrate his leadership," Chiu said.

Echoing Chiu's observation, Thomas Hung (洪茂雄), an international relations graduate research fellow at National Chengchi University, said "China's Anti-Secession Law is counterproductive, and has provided an opportunity for President Chen to bring together a strong and collective voice against China."

Hung said that China has once again misjudged the situation in Taiwan, citing the 1996 incident when China fired missiles into Taiwan's waters to intimidate the Taiwanese people from participating in the nation's first-ever direct presidential election. In 2000, Beijing's threatening rhetoric also backfired, by swinging votes in Chen's favor.

"Despite previous lessons that its oppression of Taiwan is likely to result in a strong backlash, Beijing finds it hard to refrain from taking such steps because of its communist nature," Hung said.

He added that the law also cut against China's own interests by forcing the EU to reconsider the otherwise almost certain lifting of its arms embargo on China.

Noting the recent rift between Chen and his pan-green camp supporters in the wake of his inking of the 10-point joint statement with pro-unification People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), a number of political analysts said that China's introduction of the legislation had "helped mend fences between Chen and his pro-independence supporters."

Hung said that China's high-profile legislation had aroused concern from members of the international community over cross-strait and regional stability, and, as a result, "indirectly helped boost Taiwan's visibility on the world stage and gain international sympathy for its plight."

Emile Sheng (盛治仁), a professor of political science at Soochow University, however had a different view on world reaction, at least in Europe. Sheng said that some analysts see China's move as simply getting even with Chen.

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