Separatists warned of severe penalties

2024-07-01 09:33:37China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

China's move to criminally punish "Taiwan independence" separatists for conducting or inciting secession is a serious warning to them, experts say.

For ringleaders or those committing significant crimes, life imprisonment or a term of imprisonment of more than 10 years can be imposed, with the possibility of the death penalty for those causing particularly severe harm to the country and the people, judicial guidelines issued on June 21 said.

"It is a heavy and head-on blow to the activities of 'Taiwan independence' separatists, and it comes in a very timely fashion," said Wu Huiqiu, chairman of the board of the Washington China Unification Promoting Association.

The guidelines, jointly issued by the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the ministries of public security, state security and justice, allow for trial in absentia in some cases.

The move comes amid escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait triggered by repeated separatist attempts made by those advocating "Taiwan independence", particularly since the island's new leader Lai Ching-te, who holds strong separatist views, took office in May.

Anthony Moretti, department head and an associate professor of the Communication and Organizational Leadership Department at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania, said that if the separatists continue to see the island as an independent country and themselves as "friends of the United States" and the West, that is "the equivalent of walking past a fire and throwing more gasoline on it".

"The fire only gets hotter and bigger, and there's even more potential for problems," Moretti said.

Clear signal

By issuing the judicial guidelines, the central authorities are sending another clear signal and serious warning, that Taiwan's hard-core separatists will be severely punished, and they should not have the slightest illusion regarding that, Wu said.

On Thursday Taiwan's "mainland affairs council" said it would raise the travel alert for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and Macao Special Administrative Region to the second-highest orange alert, advising residents to avoid nonessential travel.

The next day the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said the judicial document does not target most people in Taiwan, but a few die-hard "Taiwan independence "separatists.

"Taiwan compatriots should not have any concerns about traveling across the Strait," said Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for the office.

The guidelines deal with stubborn "Taiwan independence" supporters rather than ordinary people of Taiwan, Wu said. "The line is drawn very clearly."

Moretti said the in absentia provision seems reasonable, because those identified by the Chinese mainland but living in Taiwan are unlikely to travel there for any trial.

"Outside of the likely harsh comments that the US and the West will offer, I don't see any penalties or sanctions coming," Moretti said. "China will remind the global audience that outside governments should not interfere with the domestic issues of any country."

Wu said the judicial guidelines also send a "clear signal" to the world.

"That is to say, the Taiwan question is one that China can solve by itself, and it is reasonable, legitimate and necessary for China to use its law and legal procedures to punish the 'Taiwan independence' separatists.

"There is no position for external forces to intervene, and there is no reason for them to say anything about the guidelines."

Wu said he hopes the Democratic Progressive Party realizes the seriousness of the problem, abandons its position on "Taiwan independence", and returns to the basis of the 1992 Consensus so that it can embark on the path of peaceful development toward reunification.

"It should be said that the only hope for Taiwan's fate and future is the ultimate reunification of the motherland."

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