16 years ago
Sword of Damocles
Mainland China`s proposed "anti-secession law" is a threat to Taiwan. If passed by the National People`s Congress which is in session this and next week in Beijing, the law would nip in the bud any chance for a thaw in cross-strait relations.
It would not be exaggerating to say that the law is like the sword of Damocles dangling over the heads of Taiwan`s 23 million people. This is because the law would make it a legal necessity to invade Taiwan if Beijing deemed that the island was pursuing independence.
Beijing`s move came at a time when President Chen Shui-bian was waving an olive branch toward the mainland. Last week, the independence-minded Chen signed a joint statement with James Soong, leader of the opposition People First Party, asserting that he would not seek independence for Taiwan. He did not rule out the possibility of Taiwan`s eventual reunification with mainland China. That`s an about-face from his previous pronouncements on re-writing the Constitution and other sebsitive issues concerning independence.
Signs of rapprochement can also be found in the first direct airline flights between the two sides during the Lunar New Year holidays. But the mainland`s new legislation could send the nascent thaw into deep freeze again.
Although Beijing argued that the law is "preventive and peaceful" in nature, because it sets no timetable for the use of "non-peaceful means" against secession, it is an intimidation in the eyes of the people here. It will hurt the tenuous ties between the two sides.