China: death penalty for advocating 'Taiwan independence'

China on June 21 instated the death penalty for "particularly serious" cases involving supporters of Taiwanese independence. New judicial guidelines outline severe punishments for activities deemed as fragmenting the country or inciting secession. The new standards, entitled "Opinions on Punishing the Crimes of Splitting the Country & Inciting Splitting the Country by 'Taiwan Independence' Diehards," were jointly issued by the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Justice. The document sets forth a legal framework with the goal of combatting "separatist" activities by proponents of Taiwan's independence.

The guidelines categorize and outline specific actions that constitute crimes of secession and incitement to secession, including:

  • Initiating or establishing organizations, plans, or programs aimed at promoting Taiwanese independence.
  • Attempting to alter Taiwan’s status through legislative means or referendums.
  • Seeking international recognition of Taiwan as an independent entity.
  • Using one's job or influence, such as in government, education, or media, to misrepresent or falsify the history of Taiwan's status as part of China.
  • Consistently taking part in or playing a major role in activities that support Taiwanese independence.

The new standards stipulate severe punishments for those identified as leaders or significant participants in secessionist activities, and classify actions causing "significant harm to the state and its people" as offenses that may result in the death penalty. Other punishments range from life imprisonment to fixed-term imprisonment, similarly depending on the severity and role in the activities.

In response to the new guidelines, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council issued a statement emphasizing the democratic freedoms enjoyed by Taiwan's citizens. The council asserted that Beijing has no jurisdiction over Taiwan and that the new laws are therefore not binding on the people of Taiwan. The council further criticized the Chinese Communist Party's actions as detrimental to cross-strait relations.

The guidelines officially came into force on the date of their release, just three days after the sighting of a Chinese nuclear submarine surfacing near Taiwan. National Defense Minister of Taiwan Wellington Koo stated on June 16 that the Taiwanese government was vigilantly monitoring the situation.

Fom Jurist, June 22. Used with pernission.