China's Anti-Secession Law Boomerangs

The passage of any law by China’s rubber-stamp National People’s Congress is always a mere formality. But the controversial legislation to outlaw Taiwanese secession has proved anything but routine. It raised the stakes for the island’s pro-independence camp and increased the risk of a cross-Strait military conflict.

The anti-secession law’s vague language and attempt at softened wording – perhaps geared toward mollifying foreign critics – paradoxically increases rather than decreases the likelihood that China and the United States could be unwittingly and unwillingly drawn into an avoidable military conflict. By failing to clearly delineate presumed or potential “red lines” for Taiwan, the law leaves open the possibility of substantial miscalculation or misinterpretation.

Despite several weeks of intense US pressure to soften - or even retract - the proposed law, China’s leaders did little more than attempt to reinforce their position that “non-peaceful” (i.e., military) measures would serve strictly as a last resort - which had already been assumed anyway. The Bush administration’s reaction was uncharacteristically blunt, with its call for “Beijing to reconsider the passage of the law'” – a rather directly worded intrusion into what China considers to be an internal matter.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/PkDRJ9x;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.