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China is using rule of law to fight Taiwan separatism

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By Talibeh Hydara

On 21 June 2024, Chinese authorities issued guidelines designed to impose criminal punishments on diehard ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists, effectively using law instead of force to protect the country’s unity and territorial integrity.

This is a remarkable application of the law in punishing diehard separatists for conducting or inciting secession while preserving China’s sovereignty.   

The legal guidelines were jointly issued by the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, and the ministries of public security, state security and justice.

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The legal document could not have come at a better time after growing separatist activities since Lai Ching-te came into power in May.

However, China knows that most people across the Taiwan Strait hold that unity is the best recipe for development and peace. That is why the legal document does not give any room for blanket punishment of people across the Straight.

It is specific to few individuals bent on promoting the secession activities, such as organizing or scheming to carry out secession plans or seeking independence by relying on foreign support or by force. For this set of individuals, the law attaches death sentence especially if their crimes gravely harm the state and the people.

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Knowing the strong leadership in China, this law will not gather dust in the book. China will effectively enforce it and the legislation allows Chinese courts to bring these diehard separatists to trials, even in absentia.

In fact, the law allows the separatists to abandon their secession stance and embrace unity. Despite being a stern action against separatists, the law draws a clear line between a few stubborn separatists and the rest of Taiwan people. As one commentator describes it, “this is both severe punishment for the perpetrators and tolerance for those who repent, demonstrating the educational and rehabilitating functions of the rule of law.”

China has faced all kinds of provocations especially by the US, which is actively whispering into the ear of Taiwan leaders. However, President Xi Jinping is firm and smart. The fact that China has applied the rule of law to ensure unity only shows his visionary approach to peace which the world needs.

For decades since the birth of the People’s Republic of China, the ideals of the founding fathers have remained until today: China is one, and Taiwan is an inalienable territory of China. A peaceful and prosperous future for people on both sides of the Strait hangs on reunification of the nation. This new legal strategy to deter and discourage secession activities in the Straight could inspire other countries as well that rule of law is also a critical instrument for safeguarding national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and for upholding peace and stability.

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