New York Times



Taiwan Bitter at China Law on Secession

By Chris Buckley
Published: March 8, 2005

BEIJING, March 8 - Taiwan on Tuesday quickly condemned the antisecession law presented to China's legislature, calling it crude and malicious, and warning that it could threaten regional peace.

The Mainland Affairs Council, the Taiwan government office that deals with issues concerning China, said the proposed law, which is aimed at halting any move by Taiwan to full independence, "exposed China's plot to impose armed force to swallow up Taiwan."

"In essence, it has handed its military a blank check to unleash force against Taiwan," the council said in a statement.

In an explanation of the measure, Wang Zhaoguo, a deputy president of the legislature, the National People's Congress, set out China's claim that Taiwan is a part of China, and listed measures Beijing would take to encourage Taiwan to eventually accept peaceful reunification with the mainland.

But analysts and politicians in Taiwan said the very existence of the proposed law, which is expected to be passed soon, and some of its threatening wording had potentially volatile implications for the long standoff between China and Taiwan.

"The fact that there is a law legalizing threats against Taiwan is itself problematic," said Bi-khim Hsiao, a legislator with the Democratic Progressive Party. "It's unwise to devise measures that will complicate the already complicated situation." The law threatens to erase the fragile good will that Taiwan and China recently developed by allowing direct flights between them over the Lunar New Year holiday period, she said.

Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, also belongs to the Democratic Progressive Party, which favors further distancing Taiwan from Beijing.

The proposed law highlights China's determination to reserve the right to decide what laws or acts would amount to Taiwanese independence, said Chang Jung-kung, a spokesman for the Nationalist Party, which opposes President Chen. He cited a passage in Mr. Wang's speech that said China would resort to force if a major incident entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur.

"The word 'should' there is very important," Mr. Chang said. "It stresses the mainland will resort to force if it decides Taiwanese independence is going to happen, not only if it does happen."