China's anti-secession law and the risk of war in the Taiwan Strait

You Ji*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The product of a ten-year debate, China's Anti-Secession Law assures Taiwan and the world that peaceful independence is a myth. The law explains that China is building military superiority to prevent Taiwan's de jure independence. This threat is matched by peace inducements, mainly economic integration, to increase the cost of independence. The ASL channels hard and soft approaches into one legal framework. Yet to this author, the ASL is fundamentally not a piece of law but a statement of Hu Jintao's new thinking. It enriches China's Taiwan policy of maintaining peace through the threat of war, the final line of defence against de jure Taiwanese independence. This article explains how the status quo is used against independence and how deliberate ambiguity has enlarged Beijing's space of manoeuvring with both Taipei and Washington. Beijing does not want war, but it must insist on its likelihood. The absence of a reunification timetable in the ASL shows that Beijing is not in a hurry to resolve the Taiwan issue. Beijing also has encouraged Washington to play a more active role in coordinating the cross-Strait interaction. The likelihood of war can best be reduced by building ambiguity into the cross-Strait relationship to avoid pressure for drastic action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-257
Number of pages21
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


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