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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

MND to mull plan to withdraw forces from islets close to China

ROC Central News Agency

2013/10/01 23:14:23

Taipei, Oct. 1 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) will contemplate a plan aimed at withdrawing military forces from two frontline bases on Kinmen, a Taiwan-controlled island group close to southern China, MND spokesman Luo Shou-he said Tuesday.

The plan for the MND to hand over control of Dadan and Erdan, two of 12 islets surrounding the main island of Kinmen, to the Kinmen county government so that it can transform them into tourist spots has been approved by the Cabinet, Luo told the press.

The project, however, has drawn public concerns, which have led the MND to "mull every possible angle" regarding the issue, he said.

A newspaper report said that day that the government's plan to withdraw its armed forces from Dadan and Erdan has triggered grave concerns among several lawmakers, including Lin Yu-fang, a member of the legislative Diplomacy and National Defense Committee.

Quoting Lin, the report said he was strongly opposed to the plan, because the two islets are military outposts where the Republic of China government has recorded significant victories in fending off invasion by the Chinese military since it relocated to Taiwan after losing the civil war in China in 1949.

Lin was quoted as saying that "only a defeated armed forces would pull back."

According to Lin, Dadan and Erdan were the frontline where the scarce victories were won. Now, only because the Kinmen county government wants to attract Chinese tourists, the military must make way and allow the Chinese to "seize" the two islets, he complained.

Lin warned that such a move would send the message that Taiwan does not have the strength to defend its key islands, the report said.

In response, Minister without Portfolio Lin Jung-tzer, who is in charge of the plan to open Dadan and Erdan as tourist spots, said all relevant ministries and government departments had coordinated over the project for a great deal of time before they gave it a green light Sept. 12.

Under the plan, the existing military forces on the two islets will move to nearby Little Kinmen, leaving them to the joint management of the National Police Agency, the Coast Guard Administration and the Kinmen county government, the official said.

The handover process is scheduled to be complete by the end of June 2014, he added.

Asked about the lawmakers' concerns, Lin said he respects different opinions. On the question of whether the armed forces will stay, he said he had no knowledge of the matter.

(By Claudia Liu and Elizabeth Hsu)

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