Mon, May 25, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Kinmen plans a ‘step forward’ in relations: MAC

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter, in Kinmen

Kinmen County Commissioner Chen Fu-hai, second left, applauds as a master blacksmith, right, presents China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun, center, with a steel cooking knife yesterday, the second day of Zhang’s visit to the island county.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) yesterday discussed domestic concerns in Kinmen County such as water and power, proposing that residents in the county and those of Xiamen, Zhangzhou and Quanzhou in China’s Fujian Province are “like a family.”

Kinmen faces various challenges as it pursues development, Zhang said after a closed-door meeting with Kinmen County Commissioner Chen Fu-hai (陳福海).

“The visit was for field research to understand problems facing Kinmen and to get firsthand information, so we can study the issues further after I go back, and come up with solutions through future communications between both sides,” Zhang said.

“A family that lives in harmony will prosper and it will succeed in all undertakings,” Zhang said, referring to a Chinese-language saying. “There is no difficulty that cannot be solved.”

One of the problems discussed in talks between Zhang and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) on Saturday was a pending contract between the Kinmen County Government and a Chinese Fujian Province-owned water corporation to introduce water from a reservoir in Quanzhou to Kinmen.

During a visit to the Tianpu Reservior (田埔水庫), the destination of a planned 17km undersea pipeline from Longhu in Quanzhou, MAC Deputy Minister Lin Chu-chia (林祖嘉) said the project would not only help with water shortages, but also signifies “a step forward in cross-strait relations.”

“We are looking forward to signing the contract,” Zhang said.

“We are of the same family and we all drink water from the same river,” he added.

Kinmen County Bureau of Public Works section head Chang Wu-ta (張武達) said that at the initial stage of its completion, the project would provide 25 percent of the county’s water, which currently comes from underground sources.

“Although water shortage problems have not occurred [recently], we need to look for alternative water sources so we can preserve underground water resources,” Chang said.

Residents of Kinmen have mixed feelings about the project.

An employee at Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor (金門酒廠) surnamed Hsu (許) said he believed that the project was welcomed by a majority of people in Kinmen.

“It is true that we have not faced rationed water supplies, but sufficient water supply is important for the development of the tourism industry,” Hsu said.

A 58-year-old taxi driver surnamed Chuang (莊) said he does not feel comfortable with Kinmen tapping water from China.

“The problem of lack of water has existed since I was young. We were fine without water supplies from China when there were 100,000 soldiers stationed in Kinmen in the past. Now there are only 3,000 to 4,000 soldiers here and there has been a steady process of population outflow,” he said. “However, it is true that construction of more and more bitumen roads have caused a decrease in underground water.”

The county government is also seeking to obtain electricity from China.

“Ensuring a stable supply of water and electricity is vital to Kinmen. We hope that [Beijing] will enhance its strength in offering necessary assistance to us, because people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are close — like a family — and can work together to realize the ‘Zhonghua dream’ (中華夢),” Chen said.

In expressing his gratitude to Zhang after their meeting, Chen addressed him as lingdao (領導) from Beijing,” a Chinese term which generally means “leader.”

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