March 19, 2005


Beijing's recurring headache: China's pledge to hang on to Taiwan by force if necessary is just the latest symptom of the widening gulf between the two (Jonathan Watts, March 18, 2005, Guardian Unlimited)

The vote could hardly have been more clear cut: 2,896 in favour, none against and two abstentions. Even by the sycophantic standards of the National People's Congress - a nominally all-powerful Chinese legislature that has never rejected a single bill in more than 50 years - the support for the anti-secession law earlier this week was overwhelming.

By endorsing the use of military force to block Taiwanese independence the legislation clearly struck a chord with an increasingly nationalistic domestic audience - so much so that a throng of Chinese journalists broke into applause on Monday when the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, gave an impassioned explanation of its meaning. "Taiwan is a domestic issue," said the leader during his annual press conference. "We don't want foreign interference; neither are we afraid of it."

The reaction in Taiwan was equally theatrical. A government spokesman described the law as a "serious provocation" and the Taiwanese president, Chen Shui-bian, called for nationwide day of protest later this month, culminating in a rally of 1 million people.

But aside from the political rhetoric, how does the new law affect the tense status quo that has characterised cross-straits relations for half a century?

The simple reality is that ten years from now Taiwan will be a normal independent nation and several more pieces of the current PRC will have seceded.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 19, 2005 7:50 PM

Every day I pray that I don't get run over by a bus on the way to work. I want to live long enough to see how all this plays out. When my kids get to be my age, the world will look as different as the world of the Czar vs. the world of 1950.

Posted by: ray at March 19, 2005 10:53 PM

In the mean time, this may present us with the opportunity for a field test of our anti-missile systems, especially any boost phase ones we might be developing. I won't be surprised to see some Aegis class ships in the Straits of Taiwan.

Posted by: jd watson at March 19, 2005 11:53 PM

The totalitarians in Beijing are really hitting that nationalist card hard aren't they? Didn't Dr Johnson say that 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel?'

Posted by: bart at March 20, 2005 6:34 AM