The law passed by China's National People's Congress in March 2005, under which its army has been legally empowered to attack Taiwan if it declares independence, has created a very complicated, serious and bewildering situation. On the one hand, this law has highly intensified the tension between China and Taiwan; on the other hand, it has filled the regional and international atmosphere with anxiety.
The dispute between China and Taiwan is older than half a century. The whole world is aware of the issue under dispute. But it is also clear that both China and Taiwan have their own separate cultural identities and believe in two separate political systems. In the economic world also, China and Taiwan have separate identities and separate roles to play. Therefore, if either of the two parties takes a unilateral step in haste it can lead to extremely dangerous consequences. For this reason, it is of utmost necessity that both parties have enough patience and understanding to solve the problem through peaceful means.
Taiwan, with a population of 23 million, has had a democratic system for many decades. The Taiwanese are dedicated to democracy. Taiwan has presented an ideal to the world, through its endeavors to strengthen its democratic institutions. Taiwan is economically strong, which is evident from the fact that its foreign exchange reserves are equivalent to US$230 billion. Its economic prosperity can also be understood by the fact that it ranks 15th as a contributor to world trade. Besides, Taiwanese goods have continuously earned world praise for their high quality. Taiwan has its own identity with rich cultural values. In spite of being small in area, it is not weak; it has been prosperous in all fields and this prosperity has deep roots. Therefore, it would be childish for anyone to think that it would be easy to bring Taiwan under its rule through an armed attack or military operation.
The People's Republic of China is definitely a big and powerful country. Since coming under communist rule in 1949, it has adopted double standards and policies; doubts about its integrity are not baseless. One example is its 1951 commitment not to alter the existing political system in Tibet, followed by its occupation by force, revealing double standards and breach of promise. A second example is the introduction of the slogan "Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai" (Indians and Chinese are bothers), followed by an attack on India in 1962. The frequently stated belief in rule by the people, while supporting the dictatorship in Burma (Myanmar), is another example of China's double-standard policy. In Nepal, on the one hand supporting the Maoists and on the other keeping mum about the collapse of democracy in that country is the living example of Chinese policy. Under this series of events, if Taiwan talks of taking steps to maintain its identity, this cannot be overlooked, although Taiwan should also act only after deep thinking and should not take any step in haste.
The law under discussion, passed by the National People's Congress on March 14, 2005, contains ten articles. The law states that a declaration of independence by Taiwan would be treated as an act of secession. Such a move would challenge the sovereignty and integrity of China and, therefore, Chinese forces would employ "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan. But it does not clarify what measures would be taken. It is not clear whether there would be a naval blockade of Taiwan, or a missile attack or any other type of action against it. Not only this, immediately after the passage of the said bill it was claimed on behalf of Beijing "this is not a war bill," and "its aim is to strengthen the relationship between China and Taiwan." From all this, it is amply clear that China knows that to attack Taiwan is not a game, and even if this happens it will not be easy for China to bear the consequences that will follow.
China is surely wearing the mask of communism, but its behavior and policies are like those of a capitalist country. This is natural. If it were not so, China would lag behind in worldwide economic competition. China knows this reality. It would be better if Beijing would no longer turn its face away from the reality of the Taiwan issue, as it has been doing until now, knowingly or unknowingly. Taiwan has trade and commercial relations with a number of countries on nearly six continents, involving hundreds of billions of dollars. The economic interests of all these nations are linked with Taiwan; no doubt China is aware of this also. Therefore, China must continuously talk to Taiwan with a liberal attitude, without any prejudice.
One solution to this dilemma would be for Taiwan, with its separate culture and democratic system, to co-exist with China, without a declaration of independence, as one unit of a federation. Although China is a communist country, it can be another unit of the same federation, and thus can treat Taiwan as a fellow member of the federation. Both can co-exist as two units of the same federation in an arrangement that would prove beneficial and acceptable to both.
There is a dire necessity to abandon rigid positions and refrain from strong-arm tactics, to move toward a continuous dialogue in a cordial atmosphere. Only a series of dialogues can provide a positive solution acceptable to both parties, end the tension and clear the road for regional peace and progress.