Sat, Mar 16, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Probe focuses on `small three links'

CROSS-STRAIT POLICY A Control Yuan member says the authorities implementing the policy in Kinmen and Matsu have not had good results and are under investigation for dereliction of duty

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Control Yuan members are investigating whether the government has neglected its responsibilities in implementing the "small three links" (小三通), according to a Con-trol Yuan member who spoke to the Taipei Times yesterday. Its report on the matter is expected to be published in early April.

"The policy is very important to Kinmen's and Matsu's economies," the Control Yuan source said. "The government departments concerned -- under the Executive Yuan -- have not had good results from the policy, and that is why they are being investigated for potential dereliction of duty in overseeing the policy."

The Control Yuan member, who requested anonymity, said yesterday that the special panel responsible for investigating the case will interview the key policymaker, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in the next three weeks to investigate whether there have been any flaws in the policymaking process.

The source said the panel will interview vice ministers next week.

The "small three links" (shipping, postal and trade links between Taiwan's outlying islands -- Kinmen and Matsu -- and China) were established in January last year in accordance with the Off-shore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例), which was passed in 2000 to boost the economies of the two islands.

The policy has been criticized, however, for failing to achieve its goals. While many Kinmen and Matsu residents have traveled to China, few Chinese nationals have made the trip from China. Kinmen and Matsu residents have also complained that there is little value in their being allowed to import Chinese goods, since they are forbidden from reselling the goods to Taiwan proper.

In addition, as an internal Control Yuan document seen by the Taipei Times states, "The various units of central government located in Kinmen which are responsible for the policy do not communicate well with one another, and have no clear division of responsibilities."

The official told the Taipei Times that the MAC should devolve some of its powers to the Kinmen and Matsu county governments instead of "being in charge of everything.

"That way," he said, "the local governments will have more flexibility to utilize and benefit from the policy."

Control Yuan members began to investigate the matter on their own initiative in September last year. They have visited Kinmen twice and Matsu once to listen to local residents' opinions on the policy.

According to the document, the smuggling of illegal goods as well as legal goods that are not submitted to Taiwan's customs in Kinmen and Matsu both persist on a large scale, resulting in a thriving trade in Chinese meat and vegetables that enter the market without undergoing safety inspections.

Chao Chang-pin (趙昌平), a member of the special panel, told the Taipei Times that while he realized that the policy has been coolly received by China, most local residents had thought that it was a decriminilization measure allowing them to trade freely with the other side.

"It is the government's duty to explain the policy and carry it out effectively," Chao said.

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