If you say something often enough and loudly enough, does it become true?
The National People’s Congress of China ratified the Anti-Secession Law March 14. All 2,896 members of that legislative body voted unanimously for the law, which states that Taiwan is a part of China, and that any motion towards “secession” would be grounds for the employment of “non-peaceful means.”
The 10 articles of the “law,” its writers and those who ratified it are entertaining a blissful delusion.
The Anti-Secession Law says: “The state protects the rights and interests of the Taiwan compatriots in accordance with law.” There can be no law if the law’s target population has not agreed to a social contract with that law. Only 5 percent of the Taiwan population is in favor of the Anti-Secession Law, according to a recent poll by Taiwanese news agency TVBS News. The other 95 percent have expressed no wish to be “protected” by China’s law, especially if this consists of “protection” from basic democratic liberties.
The Anti-Secession Law says: “Safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people, the Taiwan compatriots included.” There has been no such integrity and no such common obligation for almost three generations. The two entities that administer law upon the territory of Taiwan and the territory of China respectively have not had direct communication in 57 years. Furthermore, Taiwan has completed two free elections of a sovereign president, a leader who does not report to the “central” government in Beijing.
The Anti-Secession Law says: “In the event that … possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial dignity.” In fact, peaceful means have never been used. China and Taiwan today are as friendly as the United States and Russia during the Cold War. China has continued to point over 700 missiles at Taiwan and shows no signs of decreasing those numbers. Taiwan continues to buy military equipment from the United States.
The Chinese Communist Party has repeated ad nauseum, at home and abroad, that the “Taiwan Question” is a domestic issue. In fact, the Cross-Strait situation has been teetering on the edge between domestic and international status since 1949, when the government that calls itself the “Republic of China” fled to the island, and the Communist government that calls itself the “People’s Republic of China” took over power in Beijing. At the beginning, both the Kuomintang (the Nationalist Party) and the CCP claimed sovereignty over the entire territory of Taiwan and China and would agree that the conflict was a civil war.
But in 2005, this is no longer the case. Taiwanese nationalism has grown steadily since the election of the first non-Kuomintang president. The Nationalist Party that once claimed sovereignty over the whole of China is now the main opposition to the Democratic Progress Party led by current Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian. The DPP has constructed its platform on this new nationalism, and the old ambition to reconquer the mainland is little more than a joke for most Taiwanese citizens.
China has also repeated ad nauseum that a small band of radical “secessionists” has hijacked the Taiwanese mainstream. Perhaps on the mainland it would be possible for politicians to impose their agenda upon an entire population. In Taiwan, however, the free press bashes the DPP as often as it bashes the Kuomintang. The majority of Taiwanese do not necessarily want immediate independence; nor do they necessarily prefer reunification.
Perhaps the CCP is unable to understand the meaning of political plurality. By trying to impose the single master narrative of reunification on all Taiwanese citizens of varying political persuasions, the Anti-Secession Law denies the Taiwanese people the right to decide their own destiny.
Taiwanese politicians will continue to agitate, to shout out words of dissent to the world with the real support of their real constituency. Just ask the million Taiwanese citizens who took to the streets in Taipei on March 26. For them, this is a struggle for survival. This is a struggle for the recognition that reality is manifold, that power does not equal justice, that saying something loudly means you are deafening — not that you are right.
Evelyn Shih is a senior in Silliman College.