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Troops to remain on two remote Kinmen islets: premier

ROC Central News Agency

2013/10/25 19:50:16
(CNA file photo)

Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) Taiwan will continue to station troops on two of its frontline islets, although the number might be reduced, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Friday, effectively rebutting earlier suggestions that the otherwise uninhabited islets will be turned over to control by the coast guard and the police.

While not ruling out the opening of Dadan and Erdan islets to tourists, Jiang said there is still a need for a troop presence for the time being.

Answering questions at the Legislative Yuan, Jiang said a decision on whether to allow tourists to see around the docks or other specific points of interest is expected after a fact-finding mission planned for the next few days.

Officials had said earlier that at the request of the authorities of Kinmen County -- of which Erdan and Dadan are a part --the two islets are expected to be opened to tourists next year, with their 200 troops to be replaced by some 40 coast guard and police personnel.

Located just over 4,000 meters from the Chinese city of Xiamen, Dadan and Erdan are called 'the frontline of the frontlines.' Their distance from the main island of Kinmen is nearly three times as great.

The islets were the scene of artillery battles with communist Chinese forces in 1950 and again in 1958 and partly because of that, cruises depart daily from Xiamen bringing Chinese tourists to see the islets from the sea.

Even if Chinese tourists are allowed on the island, Jiang said, they will be prohibited from having their pictures taken with the troops. 'It's not going to happen,' he said. 'Our troops are not there to pose for photos.'

(By Wang Jing-yi and Jay Chen)

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