China holds symposium to mark 15th anniversary of Anti-Secession Law implementation

Experts called for more legislations amid increasing foreign interference, threats for national security


A Chinese community in Los Angeles calls for reunification and protests Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen making a stopover in the US in August 2018. Photo: cnsphoto

Senior officials reiterated the Chinese mainland's stance at a symposium to oppose separatists in Taiwan island and promote the peaceful reunification of the country, which was held to mark the 15th anniversary of the implementation of the Anti-Secession Law in Beijing on Friday. The event was held a day after China's top legislature overwhelmingly passed the national security legislation for its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

Experts said that against the backdrop of the passage of a national security law for Hong Kong, referring back to the Anti-Secession Law passed in 2005 reflects the changing challenges China has faced in the past 15 years - from fighting against separatists in Taiwan to safeguarding sovereignty amid increasing interference from the West and the US on affairs in China's Tibet, Xinjiang, HKSAR and Taiwan. They also called for completing the law systems to protect national systems and stronger countermeasures to sanction active figures of the anti-China and overseas separatist groups.

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China, said at the symposium that separatists in Taiwan island have miscalculated the situation for a while, kept making provocations and harmed the interests of the people across the Straits and the national interests, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Their behavior has severely destroyed cross-Straits peace and stability, challenged the bottom line of national sovereignty and integrity, and should be firmly stemmed. There is only one China in the world and no matter how many tricks the separatists play or collude with foreign forces, the fact cannot be changed, Li said.

Seeking independence for Taiwan island is a dead end, and whoever violates the law would be severely punished, Li said.

Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, officials from the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the Central Military Commission attended the symposium.

On March 14, 2005, the 3rd session of the 10th National People's Congress passed the Anti-Secession Law with 2,896 affirmative votes, zero vetoes and two abstentions. At that time, Taiwan was ruled by the separatist Democratic Progressive Party, and the then-Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian was actively pushing "Taiwan independence" separatism after he started his second term in 2004. 

The mainland found that a red line must be drawn to warn the DPP authority and respond to the furious public opinion and desire among the Chinese people worldwide to punish separatism, said Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing.

He told the Global Times that the Anti-Secession Law was made to "tell Taiwan and the world, especially the US, where China's bottom line is." It deterred the separatists in Taiwan island in the past decade and made the US at least keep superficial neutrally.

However, in recent years, the US and separatist ruling DPP and Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen have had more closely ties and made concrete moves to push for Taiwan's independence. The US is breaking the previous balance and this is why the mainland is restressing the Anti-Secession Law and the red line - to remind them to behave, Li Xiaobing, a Hong Kong and Taiwan affairs expert at Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times.

Li noted that "the DPP authority might push "constitutional amendment" to realize legal separatism, and the extreme separatists on the island might push an "independence referendum," and "these would all be the risks for potential conflicts."

A resident signs in a street campaign in support of national security legislation for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Hong Kong, south China, May 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaochu)

Colluding of separatists Aside from enhancing support to separatist groups in Taiwan in recent years, the West and the US have kept making trouble for China in regarding the national security and are getting more and more unscrupulously, experts said.

It has been 15 years since the enacting of the Anti-Secession Law, and China is facing different domestic and external environment with more multilateral and complicate threats and foreign interference, especially from the US, Wang Jiang, an expert on law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"We are facing external military threats and foreign forces, which are trying to infiltrate, overturning and splitting China, have taken more active and frequent moves in recent years. For example, they have actively interfered with China's domestic affairs in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Tibet Autonomous Region, HKSAR and Taiwan island," Wang said.

In 2008 - the year of Beijing Olympic Games, the West started to use Tibetan separatists, Chinese experts noted. In 2009, terrorists, separatists and religious extremists, also known as the Three Evils, which linked with foreign forces and terrorist groups in Afghanistan, have launched massive terrorist attack in Xinjiang, experts said.

A Beijing-based military expert, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times that "in the period of 2010-2020, China has paid great efforts to overcome the national security threats in Xinjiang and Tibet, and the strategy is extraordinary and comprehensive, covering local law-enforcement, international cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization members, counter-terrorism operations, as well as promoting economic development, modern education and de-extremization."

Despite China's utmost efforts in safeguarding national security, anti-China forces in the West and the US never give up attempt to infiltrate into China and overturn the Chinese government. Experts also mentioned that the US and the West are also using overseas separatists from China's Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan island and HKSAR as lever with the delusion to have a breach of China's national security. 

Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, warned that "we should keep high alert on the US using ethnic and religious affairs to stir up incidents among ethnic minority groups especially when China has finished HKSAR national security legislation."

Overseas separatists think they are boarding the US anti-China cruise ship and working utmost efforts to making troubles for China and to flatter the US. They betrayed the interests of their people and degenerated as barking dogs for the US, experts said. 

Zhu also noted that whatever the US want to play cards of Tibet and Xinjiang to contain China is doomed to fail. "We are working hard in border areas to enhance local people's livelihood and have won their sincere support. The armed forces in border areas have also been improved and won battles against separatists for the past decades, which leaves no room for separatists," Zhu said.

Overseas separatists from Tibet and Xinjiang and other regions in China have faced one failure after another for the past decades. They are nothing without the US' money and support. "I do hope they have the gut to have a fight with us and give us the chance to wipe them out in one move. Every time they thought to have 'opportunity' to overturn the Chinese government, turned out to be a funeral for themselves," Zhu said. 

Considering the strained China-US ties and US' escalating provocations over China's national security, more measures should be taken by China, including completing the law systems on national security and making reciprocal measures to sanction overseas separatists and anti-China individuals, experts said. 

Compared to multiple US laws on national security based on hurting other countries' interests and aimed at maintaining its hegemony, China's laws are aimed at protecting its national security, Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times.

More regulations on protecting national security should be implemented, including managing overseas organizations' behavior in China, freezing the assets of anti-China individuals and companies, and banning certain figures from entering China, Li said.

China should make more detailed laws by extending the experience of the Anti-Secession Law. The national security law for Hong Kong is a good signal as China has paid more attention to fixing loopholes on national security legislation, and makes precautionary measures for threats, experts said.

Wang Jiang told the Global Times that more laws would be made under the guidance of the overall national security concept to enrich our legal basis and "tool kits" to stem foreign interference.

These laws may contain detailed measures to punish organizations or individuals who infringe on the national interests and to hunt down overseas separatists to hold them accountable, Wang mentioned. 

"But unlike the US, who always performs long-armed jurisdiction and uses its domestic laws to arbitrarily sanction others, China's laws would only target those who jeopardize our national security," Wang said.