Protestors have held a pro-independence rally outside Taiwan’s parliament after the Chinese government passed an anti-secession law. It gives Beijing the right to use military force against the island, which China has repeatedly threatened to attack if it declares independence.
The new law has made the Taiwanese nervous – with one poll showing that 93 percent of the population rejects it. “We Taiwanese have to stick together,” said one protestor, “only when we remain united will we not be afraid of anyone attacking us and swallowing us up.”
The government in Taipei says the law is a threat to regional security. “It’s better to solve the problem across the strait by peaceful negotiation,” said another Taipei resident, “China has now unwisely raised the tension, which is not good for either sides”.
Washington, which has always promised to defend Taiwan if it is attacked, says the law is “unfortunate”. So far the European Union has only offered an embarrassed silence. But it comes at an awkward moment as the EU is trying to lift the arms embargo against Beijing.
China’s National Peoples Congress almost unanimously passed the law. Premier Wen Jaibao says the measure is aimed at peace, not war. But it has stirred up tension in one of Asia’s most dangerous flashpoints. Mainland China regards Taiwan as nothing more than a renegade province.