Mainland’s unification law threat to Taiwan, Asia: Chen

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff and Agencies

President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday that mainland China’s plan to enact a “unification law” to incorporate Taiwan poses a grave threat to Taiwan’s democratic development and will hinder transformation of Asia’s new liberal democracies as well. Chen made the remarks in a keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony for the Second Democratic Pacific Assembly (DPA) held at the Grand Hotel in Taipei.

Despite Beijing’s constant military threats and diplomatic suppression, Chen said Taiwan has managed to set a model for democratic development.

Chen said Beijing now intends to legislate a so-called unification law which will define Taiwan as a “special political area” under its jurisdiction.

Beijing’s legislation plan is mainly aimed at providing a legal basis for it to take Taiwan by force, Chen said.

Should the plan be realized, Chen said, Taiwan’s democratic development will be at stake and many other Asian countries’ democratic reforms will also be threatened.

He warned that China is trying to establish a “military supremacy” to counter possible intervention from the United States, Japan and other countries in the event of a military clash in the Taiwan Strait. Chen said he hopes democratic countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean can form a “Democratic Pacific Alliance” to safeguard peace, security, freedom, democracy and economic prosperity in the region.

“By forming a Democratic Pacific Alliance, Taiwan will be able to forge a cooperative framework with all liberal democracies on both sides of the Pacific Ocean to promote our shared values of peace, freedom, democracy, security and economic prosperity,” Chen added. Please see CHINA on page

When addressing the same conference, Vice President Annette Lu again promoted her concept of linking all nations in the Pacific Rim to set up the Democratic Pacific Union (DPU), which she said would be aimed at maintaining sustainable development in the Pacific, narrowing the international gap with information technology cooperation, and protecting human security, democracy and human rights with a velvet glove.

Lu urged all nations in the Pacific Rim to officially form the DPU next year, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Seventy political leaders, academics and dignitaries from 24 countries are taking part in this year’s event. They include Salvadoran President Antonio Saca, Panamanian Vice President Arturo Vallarino, Nicaraguan Vice President Joze Rizo Castellon and 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams.

The solicitation for support from neighboring nations — especially the United States and Japan — by Chen and Lu come when the tension across the Taiwan Strait continues to escalate. Chen’s controversial razor-thin victory for reelection in March and his vows to enact a new Constitution, which could mark a permanent break from China, weighed heavily on Beijing leaders’ patience and prompted them to consider drafting the “unification law.” In a show of strength amid the simmering tensions with China, President Chen kicked off the biggest-ever air show on the island yesterday. U.S.-made F-16s, French Mirage fighters and Taiwan-made Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDFs) streaked across the sky above the Taoyuan airbase in northern Taiwan, spinning 360 degrees in sharp formations in front of a cheering crowd.

Both Taiwan and China have been holding annual military drills, with tensions especially high this summer. Under the plans of the defense ministry, Taiwan’s series of war games will culminate in joint force exercises on Aug. 25, with all branches of the armed forces expected to show the people how the island can fend off an invasion by China.

Military analysts say there is now a rough balance of power across the Taiwan Strait: China’s 2.5-million-strong People’s Liberation Army far outnumber Taiwan’s 400,000 troops, but the island maintains a qualitative advantage.