Premier orders review of mini three links
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Oct. 18 (CNA) Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said on Tuesday that he will instruct the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to examine difficulties facing direct transport links from Taiwan's outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu to Fujian province in China -- commonly known as the three mini links -- and propose countermeasures.
"If possible, we hope the service will keep running," the premier said at a legislative question-and answer session.
Lin was responding to questions from Legislator Chen Hsueh-Sheng (陳雪生) of the opposition Kuomintang, who said that while the Kinmen- Xiamen route remains profitable, two other routes -- Kinmen-Quanzhou and Matsu-Mawei -- are making losses because of insufficient passengers.
According to Chen, the two ferry companies operating the Matsu-Mawei route are considering terminating the service.
Given cross-strait relations have cooled since the new administration of Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office, Chen asked whether ending the service would have any political implications.
The legislator said that as direct transport links are government policy, the government should address the matter and provide ferry companies with financial assistance to tide them over until there is a pick up in the number of passengers.
Lin said that he will ask the MOTC to look into the situation and study related regulations concerning the use of subsidies.
The mini three links -- small scale direct trade, post and transport -- was launched on Jan. 1, 2001 between Kinmen and Fujian, and later expanded to include Matsu.
President Tsai, then serving as the head of the Mainland Affairs Council, endorsed the policy despite major ideological differences between Taiwan and China at that time.
(By Wang Cheng-chung and Lilian Wu)
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