The National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, ratified the Anti-Secession Law with an overwhelming vote of 2,896 for to none against on Monday, setting up a legal framework to prevent Taiwan's secession from China and to promote peaceful national reunification.
The vote took place at the closing meeting of the NPC’s Third Session in Beijing, and President Hu Jintao signed a presidential order for the law’s immediate promulgation.
The law consists of ten articles covering the legislative purpose and scope of its application, the nature of the Taiwan issue, national reunification through peaceful means, and taking non-peaceful means to stop Taiwan's secession from China by "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces.
There was a storm of applause as the result of the vote was announced, which was broadcast live on national television, radio and major news websites.
"The Anti-Secession Law, adopted with such a high support rate from NPC members, has legalized the policy guideline of central authorities on Taiwan, and given full expression to China's consistent position of doing the utmost with maximum sincerity for peaceful reunification," said Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.
He said the adoption of the law also demonstrated the "common will and strong resolve" of the entire Chinese people to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity and never to allow "Taiwan independence" forces to make the province secede from China under any name or by any means.
"The promulgation and implementation of the law will have a major practical and far-reaching historical impact on the development of cross-Straits relations, peaceful reunification of the motherland, and opposing and checking Taiwan's secession," Wu said.
It is also important for China's efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, as well as the fundamental interests of the nation, he said.
China has said the law is by no means a "law on the use of force against Taiwan" or a "war mobilization order." China would only use "non-peaceful means" to stop Taiwan's secession should all efforts for peaceful reunification prove futile, Wang Zhaoguo, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, told deputies last week.
The Taiwan issue is one left over from China's civil war of the late 1940s. China has said that resolution of the Taiwan issue and complete reunification are one of the three historic tasks of the Communist Party of China and the country.
Over the years, China has made great efforts in a hope to develop closer relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits and promote peaceful reunification of the motherland.
However, the Taiwan authorities have intensified their "Taiwan independence" activities aimed at making Taiwan secede from China. The activities of the "Taiwan independence" forces pose a "grave" threat to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China has said resolving the Taiwan issue is entirely an internal affair, which is "subject to no interference by any outside forces."
Beijing has rejected the recent remarks by the US, which described the law as "unhelpful" towards relations across the Taiwan Straits.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kong Quan last week called the US’ remarks "irresponsible" and said China "demands" that the US abide by norms governing international relations, understand and support China's law-making actions and not do anything that will "foster 'Taiwan independence' secessionist activities" and harm China-US relations.
"The US should safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits region and the healthy development of China-US relations through actual practice," Kong said.
Some residents in Taiwan interviewed by Xinhua called the law "mild and rational" and hoped the law could "promote the development of cross-Straits relations by legal means."
"I think this law will help create new opportunities for the development of cross-Straits relations," said Chen Yuchun, director of the Graduate School of American Studies at the Taiwan-based Chinese Culture University.
On learning the major points of the Anti-Secession Law, Jyh-huei Her, chairman of the Taiwan-based Cross-Strait Economic & Trade Association, said the proposed law embodies the "goodwill of the mainland."
Full Text of Anti-Secession Law
(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2005)