Feb 24, 2005

Taiwan: Law Proposed in Taiwan to Counter Chinas Move

The Taiwan Solidarity Union has proposed draft legislation to counter China's plans for an anti-secession law
The Taiwan Solidarity Union, a radical pro-independence party, has proposed draft legislation to counter China's plans for an “anti-secession law”.

As the island's legislature is dominated by China-friendly opposition parties and the TSU holds only 12 of 225 seats, the party's “anti-annexation law” is unlikely to win a majority. But the proposal highlights the risk that the recent détente in volatile cross-Strait relations may be undermined.

The TSU's draft bill requires the president to hold a referendum if Taiwan's political, economic or social system were threatened, and it defines the passage of an anti-secession law by China as such a threat.

It also mandates the president to cut off all contact with China in response to such a threat.

“Taiwan's sovereignty or its future or the change of the status quo need to be decided by the Taiwanese people,” the draft law states.

The anti-secession law is to be put forward at Beijing's National People's Congress in March. The details are yet to be announced but it is expected to enshrine in law some scenarios under which China could consider military strikes against Taiwan.

The TSU's draft law also describes Taiwan as a sovereign, independent country and defines the territory it effectively controls as Taiwan plus a number of outlying islands.

That Taiwan is independent and its residents should decide its political future are claims which have been stated before; they are part of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's platform.

However, enshrining them in law would be likely to cross the red line drawn by the Chinese government. Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan and insists the island must eventually come into its fold, a stance it backs with the threat of military force should Taipei take steps towards formal independence.

Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's president, warned earlier this week that passage of the anti-secession law could derail recent efforts by Taipei and Beijing to lower tension and expand low-level dialogue. So far this year Mr Chen has mostly refrained from the provocative rhetorics that heightened tension in 2004.

“If the Chinese leadership could formulate the law in a way that offends the Taiwanese people as little as possible, we could perhaps keep the disturbances at a low level,” a senior government official said.

Independence-leaning scholars and civic groups have already criticised Mr Chen's low-key response to China's plans. The TSU's initiative will make it even harder for him to ignore the island's more radical voices.

Source: FT