Hsieh Kuo-lien,The China Post
The Cabinet decided to expand the transportation and trading links between the southeastern mainland Chinese province of Fujian and the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen and Matsu Islands, yesterday. The Cabinet now allows Taiwan businessmen working in Fujian to make round-trips between Taiwan and the mainland Chinese province via Kinmen or Matsu. Previously, the businessmen had to make round-trips via either Hong Kong or Macau, which costs significantly more time and money. The Cabinet launched the “mini three links” last Jan. 1, partially relaxing the restrictions on transportation and trading links between the mainland the two Taiwan islands. The opening of the mini three links was aimed at helping top administration officials decide whether to lift the bans on comprehensive direct “three links” between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait, which refer to transportation, trading and postal channels. The mini three links enabled residents on the two outlying islands to visit the mainland directly and allowed them to import a number of commodities from Fujian Province. The Cabinet approved the proposal worked out by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) to expand the mini three links, yesterday morning. In addition to the residents on Kinmen and Matsu, their family members in Taiwan are now permitted to go with them when they have a direct trip to the mainland, the Cabinet said. Mainland Chinese people who marry Taiwan citizens are also allowed to make round-trips across the Strait via the two frontline islands. The new policy allows those living in Taiwan to join Kinmen or Matsu residents in making trips to the mainland with the intention of promoting cross-strait religious, cultural or educational exchanges. Please see POLICY on page
As to the relaxation of limits on trading, the Cabinet now permits both Kinmen and Matsu to import more types of agricultural and industrial products, mainly commodities, from the mainland. The lifting of bans on the trading of such products is aimed at reducing smuggling in waters between the mainland and the two islands, and at meeting the needs of both Kinmen and Matsu residents and of tourists. Matsu is also allowed to import gravel from the mainland in an effort to meet the needs of the construction industry. Premier Yu Shyi-kun said that the expansion of the mini three links was intended to help create more business opportunities for residents on the two offshore islands. “The alteration in the mini three link policy indicates that we are making every effort to boost economic development on Kinmen and Matsu,” Yu said. “It also shows that we are going to deal with the issues concerning the three links with more flexible and practical policies,” the premier added. The mainland considers Taiwan part of its territory and has pledged to unify the country — by force if necessary. Beijing has claimed that direct transportation links would be launched only if Taipei agrees that such channels are “domestic routes,” a term vehemently objected to by the Chen Shui-bian administration.