Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What to make of it?

Roughly a week after Taiwan had wrapped up its legislative elections, Beijing let the world know that it was pushing the anti-secession bill, which, if it becomes law, would stipulate that Taiwan must unify with China by a certain date or be subject to attack. As of now, we don't know what date they have in mind.

I'm going to go off track for a second, but bear with me. Taiwan has, as of this year, been told that the US is considering removing it from the special 301 list, a list put together by the US State Department of countries that are known to be the worst abusers of intellectual property rights. If in 2005, Taiwan does come off the list, it will be the second time in over eight years that Taiwan has managed to make it over this hurdle.

Why has it taken this flourishing democracy so long to address this problem? Well, Taiwan has implemented laws, but may such laws are often symbolic, in the sense that little thought or money goes into enforcing the law. While this has changed for the better in Taiwan, it is something that has plagued Taiwan's efforts to improve its record in a number of areas.

So, back to China, which probably has Taiwan's enforcement-resource problem in spades. I don't know what to make of it, but one can be sure that Beijing held off on this announcement until after Taiwan's legislative elections were over. And however the wording comes out in the final bill, we already know that for the most part, this has been Beijing's policy all along. Is this a symbolic gesture to give weight to policy? And are they aware that such a move will further distance the Taiwan they dearly hope will move closer?

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