The Chinese have passed a new law that allows Beijing to use military force against Taiwan if it declares itself an independent state. Prime Minister Wen Jinbao said the anti-secessionist bill -agreed unanimously – was meant to pull China and Taiwan together, not drive them to war. Military manoeuvres by China’s growing army have alarmed Taiwan and its supporters in Washington.
Analysts do not believe Beijing wants a conflict. They think it is instead using the wording of the legislation to pave the way for measures like economic blockades and sanctions. Taiwan broke away from China during a civil war in 1949.
Beijing considers it to be an internal issue that should not concern other countries. The Taiwanese, who are armed by the Americans and have de-facto independence, say the law gives Beijing a blank cheque to attack. The president has called an extraordinary meeting of the National Security Council to decide how to respond. Mass protests against Beijing’s new law are already planned.