China declares "the state shall employ nonpeaceful means"

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

China announces details of anti-secession law.
China announces details of anti-secession law.

China passed a new law that codifies a legal basis for authorising the use of military force to stop Taiwan from formally declaring its independence from the mainland. The anti-succession law was passed by the National People's Congress on March 8 in Beijing.

The deputy chairman of the NPC told members gathered at the Great Hall of the People that, "If possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity." The broad language of the law does not specify any exact measures China might take, but its effect is to reinforce the mainland's long held position of a one-China principle.

The Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei described the law as "malicious" and "crude". Taiwan views the development as violating international norms for peacefully resolving disputes. "This law exposes China's plot to impose armed force to swallow up Taiwan," read the council's written statement. "In essence, it has handed its military a blank check to unleash force against Taiwan." A Taiwanese Defence Ministry spokesperson announced that military exercises will be held this summer to practice defending against an attack.

The White House had urged China to reconsider the law before it was passed. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "We view it as unhelpful - something that runs counter to recent trends toward a warming in cross-strait relations. We oppose any attempts to determine the future of Taiwan by anything other than peaceful means."

China has always officially maintained that Taiwan, which split from the mainland in 1949, is a rogue territory which must eventually reunify with China. Just recently in a ‘four point guideline' set forth on March 5, 2005, Chinese President Hu Jintao said, "On no account shall the 1.3 billion Chinese people allow anyone to undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will not have the slightest hesitation, falter or concession on the major principle issue of opposing secession. The 'Taiwan independence' secessionist forces must abandon their secessionist stand and stop all 'Taiwan independence' activities."

Chinese opposition to a plan by Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian for a referendum on a new constitution that may violate Jintao's ‘four-point guideline' is seen in part as prompting the new law.