03/08/2005, 00.00
china - taiwan
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China says anti-secession law would authorise war as "last resort" against Taiwan


Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - An anti-secession law was  presented today to National People's Congress, which  spells out conditions for the PLA to use force against Taiwan. It also gives the State Council and the Central Military Commission the power to take military action first and report to the NPC Standing Committee after it has begun.

"If possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ nonpeaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Mr Wang, deputy chairman of the NPC's Standing Committee, told the nearly 3,000 NPC members gathered in the Great Hall of the People.

A final vote on the law is scheduled for March 14. It is certain to pass, because the NPC routinely approves all legislation already decided by Communist Party leaders.

The law lays out for the first time the legal requirements for taking military action, saying the Chinese Cabinet and the government's Central Military Commission "are authorised to decide on and execute nonpeaceful means and nonpeaceful measures."

In an apparent effort to highlight that the proposed law is only targeting "a minority group of separatists in Taiwan", it says that the central government will use all its power to safeguard the lives and property of Taiwanese people and foreigners in any conflict. NPC delegates said the authorities were highly sensitive about possible reactions to the proposed law and were requiring them to return copies after its presentation

Beijing claims Taiwan, split from the mainland since 1949, as part of its territory. The mainland government has threatened repeatedly to invade if Taiwan tries to make its independence permanent, and the new proposed law doesn't impose any new conditions or make new threats.

Mr Wang emphasised that military action would be "our last resort when all our efforts for a peaceful reunification should prove futile." Mr Wang repeated complaints that activists who are agitating for Taiwan independence are a "serious threat to peace and security in the Taiwan Straits and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole."

He cited plans by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian to hold a referendum on a new constitution that Beijing worries could include a declaration of independence for the island.

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