China "Passes" Anti-Secession Law "Unanimously"

The National People's Congress has passed a bill authorizing military force against Taiwan by a comically "unanimous" vote of 2,896-0, with 2 abstentions. This reminds me of Arab dictators getting "re-elected" by unanimous "votes". Not to discount it too much, however, I will recognize that what China decides to do with regard to its own laws and bills and resolutions is its own business, whether we like it or not (which doesn't mean that we cannot take an interest in them). However, even the United States Senate, in the run-up to Operation Desert Storm, did not unanimously approve the use of force. (The vote in the Senate was 52-47-1.) That the US acted anyway, and that many of the Senators who voted "nay" later claimed they'd been for it all along, is irrelevant.

Major media outlets took their own positions as to the bill.

FOX News: "China OKs Military Action Against Taiwan"

BBC: "China votes for Taiwan force law"

While CNN, ever sympathetic to socialist and communist dictatorships, spins it rather approvingly: "China Congress passes Taiwan bill"

In Taiwan itself, the reaction is mixed. Taipei Times reports that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is, predictably (and rightfully) preparing anti-anti-secession legislation, with wording that is careful not to be too provocative:

The DPP's seven-article draft states that the Taiwan issue is not a part of China's domestic affairs but an international matter, and that it is necessary and urgent to swiftly enact counter-legislation to deter China's annexation efforts.

In order to maintain a peaceful and stable relationship between Taiwan and China, the draft proposes the government adopt the following four measures.

It should take appropriate measures to push cross-strait exchanges to facilitate mutual understanding and trust between the people of Taiwan and China; push exchanges and cooperation in the areas such as trade, culture and sports; push for joint crime-fighting efforts and other projects conducive to strengthening peace, coexistence and prosperity across the Taiwan Strait and provide necessary assistance to private organizations or groups launching activities to counter the "anti-secession law."

Meanwhile, China Times reports (in Chinese) that the Washington Times is calling the legislation a "paper tiger":

In its editorial "China's Paper Dragon" today, the Washington Times comments on China's passage of the anti-secession bill. The Times, and the other large Washington medium, the Post, today independently called the Chinese National People's Congress a "rubber stamp".

The actual editorial referenced strikes a militantly dismissive tone:

... The law has some symbolic significance and fits into Beijing's growing international assertiveness. In and of itself, though, it represents little more than an operatic paper dragon, lacking real teeth or fire.

The statute, which would approve military action against Taiwan should the island seek independence, also says that force should only be resorted to after peaceful attempts at restoring reunification have failed. The legislation does not set any deadline for reunification.

Any brazen or belligerent action by Beijing towards Taiwan is vigilantly tracked in Washington, since the United States and its allies could ultimately become embroiled in a military conflict across the Taiwan Strait. Given the lack of democracy in China, though, the anti-secession law lacks the kind of significance that such legislation carries in free societies. The law simply reflects what has long been Beijing's rhetorical position. Of course, the leadership in China does not need any legislative authorization for military action.

The Times goes on to address the recent issue of the European Union's consideration of dropping a ban on arms sales to China, as well as the recent Japanese coordination with the US on Pacific defense strategy, to include the area around Taiwan as a "common strategy objective". It concludes that, despite the fact that nobody really wants a war in the area, it would be wise for Taiwan's supporters to continue signalling to China that aggression on the part of the People's Liberation Army will be dealt with, and that military action in the Taiwan Straits will not be considered merely "domestic affairs".

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds and Naruwan Formosa]

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