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Date Posted: 23:52 14/03/2005

China blusters and the world quakes

Rumours of an imminent cross-Strait conflict are exaggerated

WE AT Running Dog are prepared to bet our houses that the much-hyped Anti-Secession Law, which was passed by an 'overwhelming majority' of delegates at the National People's Congress today (there were two abstentions - who were they?), will not lead to war with the rogue province of Taiwan. It isn't so much the fact that the current leadership would have to be crazier than a squirrel monkey to risk conflict without any guarantee of victory, and nor is it entirely to do with the qualms the government will inevitably feel about becoming an international pariah after years of painstaking efforts to become an active member of the community of nations. In the end, our conclusions are formed on the basis of the almost hallucinogenic hysteria with which it has been greeted in certain sections of the international press.

Most of them say that the law amounts to a 'declaration of war'. Most repeat the not entirely accurate assertion that the law was passed 'a day after Hu Jintao told the military to prepare to war'. Most bring in experts and analysts and assorted rentaquotes to discuss what war would mean for the region, and unanimously, they conclude that it would be a Bad Thing.

For example, Associated Press hack Joseph Coleman puts forward the astonishing hypothesis that war 'would be a severe blow to stability'. Meanwhile, despite the headline, 'China votes for strike against Taiwan', Reuters at least concedes that war is unlikely in the immediate term.

It seems obvious that the Anti-Secession Law is just another burst of bluster from the Chinese government, rather like the various statements implying that it would give up the Olympics in order to prevent Taiwanese independence. The perception of power is crucial, especially if it enables China to hector the Taiwanese electorate into voting Chen Shui-bian out. In any case, if China actually had the capability of attacking and defeating Taiwan, no one could seriously believe that they need a law to do so.

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