Empathy needed in China's 'National Security Act'

Empathy needed in China's 'National Security Act'
Chinese President Xi Jinping

China's National People's Congress is now deliberating on a bill to legislate a "National Security Law."

Article 11 of the proposed act reads: "Whereas neither China's sovereignty nor its national territory allows division or partition, it is the common responsibility of all the Chinese people, including the people of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, to safeguard China's sovereignty, national unification and territorial integrity."

It may sound good to the People's Republic of China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be forced back into its fold by force of arms if necessary, but the people of Taiwan don't like what it means.

As a supplement to the Anti-Secession Law of 2005, it will create an organisation specifically responsible for preventing any action that endangers national security and that punishes those who do, as well as authorise the president of the state to declare an emergency and/or war.

The State Council shall adopt all necessary measures to assign the Central Military Commission to command the mobilisation of the People's Liberation Army as well as all other military units to enforce national security.

The Anti-Secession Law, which is officially translated as the Anti-Separation Law by the Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei, seeks to formalise the long-standing policy of the People's Republic to use "non-peaceful means" against the Taiwan independence movement, if and when Taipei declares independence.

Hu Jintao, former Chinese leader and ex-general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, thought it was necessary to codify an invasion of Taiwan, because the Democratic Progressive Party government of president Chen Shui-bian was enforcing a creeping independence policy.

Chen planned to write a new constitution of a Republic of Taiwan, which would go into force in 2008, the year Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics. He believed there would be no attack from across the Taiwan Strait as the Olympiad dedicated to world peace would take place in the capital city of China.

Xi Jinping, Hu's successor, is afraid, with good reason, that Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party, will win the presidential election in January next year.

If she does, his peaceful development of relations between China and Taiwan will come to an abrupt end and the cross-strait situation is likely to return to square one as during Chen's presidency.

Xi has to have a supplement to the Anti-Secession Law as a precaution. He, of course, wants to have the National Security Law to prevent another Hong Kong protests of 2014 situation, known also as the Umbrella Revolution.

The people of Taiwan don't take to Beijing's National Security Law because it unilaterally affirms Taiwan as an inseparable part of China's national territory and authorises Xi to declare war on Taiwan.

It makes the future of cross-strait relations gloomier particularly after the US Defence Department released a report last week saying that, despite improvements over the past six years, there have been no signs that China's military posture toward Taiwan has changed significantly and the PLA has developed and deployed military capabilities to coerce Taiwan or to attempt an invasion if necessary.

On the other hand, the National Security Law expands its power of governance to Taiwan by charging the people of Taiwan with safeguarding China's sovereignty, national unification and territorial integrity.

That's simply too much for politicians of all stripes in Taiwan. They asked Andrew Hsia, minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, to file a protest with Zhang Zhijun, minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, when they meet in Kinmen.

The National People's Congress lacks empathy. It is incapable of projecting itself, and so fully understanding and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of the people of Taiwan of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experiences fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

It will further antagonise the people of Taiwan with whom China hopes to unite as one Chinese nation.

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