The Guardian 23 March, 2005

New law on one-China

The 10th National People's Congress (NPC) of China just finished on March 14, 2005 after nine and a half days of working on various issues — government work, economic and social development, central and local budgets, etc.

The top legislature also adopted the Anti-Secession Law setting a legal framework for China-Taiwan relations.

The aim of the law is to promote peaceful national reunification and in doing so prevent Taiwan from being seceded from China.

"The promulgation and implementation of the law will have major practical and far-reaching historical impact on developing cross-Strait relations, peaceful reunification of the motherland, and opposing and checking Taiwan secession from China by secessionists in the name of 'Taiwan independence'", said Wu Banggue, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.

China stressed that the Anti-Secession law is not a blank cheque for annexation of Taiwan by force. Attempts to present the law as a "war law" are wrong. Although the law has provides for "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures" to stop Taiwan's secession under certain circumstances, the Chinese government is unwilling to see such circumstances occur, Premier Wen Jiabao pointed out.

As long as there is a glimmer of hope for peaceful reunification, he said, they will do their utmost to achieve that goal.

The response in China to the new law was positive as it clearly sends a message to the secessionist forces in Taiwan not to embark on any provocative moves.

"The law issues a stern warning to the secessionists in Taiwan that anyone playing with fire will get burnt themselves", summed up an old man who has brothers and sisters on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

"I understand and support this law, which is mainly intended to safeguard peaceful national reunification. And I think the majority of the Taiwan business people in Shanghai share my opinion", commented President of the Shanghai Taiwan Investors Association.

"For Taiwan investors on the mainland, Taiwan's secession from China means losing a huge market with some quarter of the global population. This is the last thing we want to see", he said.

Outside of China, reaction to the new law has overall been positive.

In a statement on the issues, the European Union (EU) reiterated its one-China policy and expressed its hope that the Taiwan issue can be solved through peaceful means. The EU encouraged both sides to develop initiatives that contribute to dialogue and mutual understanding in the spirit of the agreement on direct air links established during the Chinese Spring Festival.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it understood the motives behind the Chinese parliament's decision to pass the law. "It is extremely important that the law documents the Chinese government's main principle — the unconditional priority of using peaceful methods for the motherland's unification within the framework of the 'one country, two systems' policy…

"Russia adheres to its basic position on the Taiwan issue, believing that China is a single state entity with Taiwan being its inseparable part", said the statement. Russia opposes Taiwan's independence in whatever form and rejects the concept of 'two Chinas' or 'one China, one Taiwan'."

Pakistan reiterated its "one China" policy and expressed support for the law.

Venezuela supported the law believing that it will strengthen and advance ties across the Taiwan Strait and open a channel for peaceful reunification through direct talks.

The African Union (AU), as well as many African countries, expressed their support as well.

French and Italian media gave positive coverage to the law.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "Cuba, from the very triumph of the revolution, has supported the territorial integrity of China and the cause of the Chinese national reunification".

The US government has strongly criticised the new law but has not gone as far as renouncing the one-China policy.

The media in Australia and the US have distorted the meaning of the new law and are using it to beat the war drums.

There are divisions within the ranks of Australian government and business leaders — some still blindly prepared to fight the US's wars anywhere, including in China, and others who see Australia's economic future tied to China and the rest of Asia. This is particularly the case for the big corporations with their eyes set on multi-billion dollar contracts there.

The Australian government still retains its official recognition of "one China".

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