China enacted on Monday a law aimed at preventing Taiwan's secession from the country, hailed unanimously as a "powerful legal guarantee for peaceful national reunification" by lawmakers, government leaders and the general public.
The National People's Congress (NPC), China's legislature, ratified the 10-article Anti-Secession Law by 2,896 pros, no con and 2 abstentions Monday morning as it ended a 9.5-day annual full session in the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing. Three lawmakers didn't cast their votes.
The law came into effect right after President Hu Jintao signed a presidential order to promulgate it later in the morning.
The NPC deputies, many beaming with smiles, applauded for nearly one minute upon the announcement of the vote outcome, broadcast live nationwide through state television, radio and major news websites.
Top legislator Wu Bangguo hailed the high support rate of the deputies for the law as epitomizing the "common will and strong resolve" of the entire Chinese people.
The Anti-Secession Law was first put on the legislative agenda of the NPC last December partly in response to the growing calls and proposals for such legislation both at home and overseas in recent years.
The promulgated law provides for "the nature of the Taiwan issue," the pursuit of national reunification through peaceful means, and the employment of non-peaceful means to check Taiwan's secession from China as the last resort.
"The Anti-Secession Law has legalized the policy guideline of central authorities on Taiwan, and given full expression to China's consistent position of doing the utmost with maximum sincerity for a peaceful reunification," said Wu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, adding the law will "have a major practical and far-reaching historical impact".
At a routine annual press conference held shortly after the closing of the NPC session Monday, Premier Wen Jiabao strongly denied allegations that the Anti-Secession Law was a "law of war", calling it a law endorsing peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits instead.
The premier added that the law does not target the Taiwan compatriots, but aims at opposing and checking "Taiwan independence" secessionist activities.
Though the law has provided for "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures" to stop Taiwan's secession under certain circumstances, Wen said, the Chinese government is unwilling to see such circumstance occur.
"As long as there is a glimmer of hope for peaceful reunification, we will exert our utmost to make it happen rather than give it up," he stressed.
Throughout the country, the general public greeted the birth of the law with delight and excitement, with the hope for an early peaceful reunification of their motherland.
"The law speaks out the wishes in the bottom of our hearts," said Li Xinming, a Beijing taxi driver who learned the news from the radio. "It's necessary to clarify a bottomline for the secessionist forces in Taiwan, and let them know we will never compromise on any issue of national sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The law's enactment has reflected the "strategic insight and political wisdom" of the central authorities, hailed Wang Hao, a student of the prestigious Beijing University.
"History will remember this solemn and exciting moment," said Liu Zhenze, a resident of Fuzhou City, capital of east China's Fujian Province opposite the Taiwan island, while watching the NPC's adoption of the law on TV.
"The law issues a stern warning to the secessionists in Taiwan that anyone playing with fire will get burnt themselves," said the old man, who has brothers and sisters on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.
Yeh Hui Te, president of the Shanghai Taiwan Investors Association, stopped his work to watch the TV broadcast of the NPC voting at around 9 p.m. Monday. "The zero-opposition result was just what I had expected," claimed Yeh.
"I understand and support this law, which is mainly intended to safeguard peaceful national reunification," said Yeh. "And I think the majority of the Taiwan business people in Shanghai share my opinion."
"For Taiwan investors on the mainland, Taiwan's secession from China means losing a huge market with some one quarter of the global population. This is the last thing we want to see," added Yeh, who has lived in Shanghai for more than a decade.