Government still mulls opening of Kinmen islets to tourists
ROC Central News Agency
By Elaine Hou
Taipei, Feb. 13 (CNA) The government is still mulling whether to open two more Kinmen County islets under military control for tourism, the defense ministry said Monday.
In a statement, the Ministry of National Defense said "related agencies under the Cabinet are still mulling whether to transfer the Dadan and Erdan islets to the Kinmen County government for tourism."
The statement came in response to a local media report that the ministry has given a "positive response" to the proposal.
Before a final decision is made, military personnel will continue to be stationed on the two islets in Kinmen County, where a military garrison has been based for over 60 years, to safeguard the country, the statement added.
The Chinese-language United Daily News reported Monday that the Kinmen government started negotiations with the defense ministry to open up the islets to the public in the second half of last year and that it has obtained a "positive response" from the ministry.
The two frontline military outposts lie only about 4 kilometers off Xiamen in China's Fujian Province and have no civilians. Dadan covers an area of 0.79 square kms, while Erdan has a size of 0.28 square kms.
The Kinmen government has proposed that the Dadan and Erdan islets should be opened to the general public on the condition that the normal operations of the military would not be affected.
Opening the two restricted areas will further boost tourism in Kinmen, the local government said.
There has been a garrison on Kinmen defending Taiwan against China since the late 1940s.
The government lifted martial law on Kinmen and demilitarized some sections of the heavily fortified island group in 1992, as cross-strait tensions gradually cooled down.
One of Taiwan's popular tourist destinations, Kinmen is known for its historic battlefields, traditional architecture, sorghum liquor known as kaoliang and numerous migratory birds.
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