The nation’s two frontline islets off the southeastern coast of China, Tatan (大膽) and Ertan (二膽), are set to open to tourism in June next year when the Ministry of National Defense (MND) completes a troops withdrawal, a Cabinet official said yesterday.
Minister Without Portfolio Lin Junq-tzer (林政則) said yesterday that the proposal had been sent to Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) on Thursday for his approval.
Lin expects Jiang to give the proposal the green light because the government agencies concerned have already ironed out their difference and agreed to work together to turn the vital islets into tourist attractions after “careful and thorough consideration.”
“We have made contingency plans to meet defensive needs in the case of war,” Lin said as he dismissed concerns that the proposal drafted by the Kinmen County Government for economic interests might compromise military security on the nation’s frontline.
Designated as vital areas under the Vital Areas Regulations (要塞堡壘地帶法), Tatan and Ertan, two military-controlled islets in Kinmen County separated by a distance of just 800m, lie about 4,000m from China’s Xiamen.
The two military outposts endured heavy bombardments in cross-strait battles fought between the People’s Liberation Army and the Armed Forces of the Republic of China after the latter retreated to Taiwan in 1949.
In the 1950s and the 1960s, Chinese cannons pounded Kinmen with more than a million rounds. Another major battle was a 44-day barrage during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958, known as the 823 Artillery Bombardment.
Lin said there are no more than 200 soldiers currently stationed on the two islets and they would be redeployed to Little Kinmen (小金門), a small islet located to the west of the main island of Kinmen.
Administration of the two islets would then be transferred from the MND to the Kinmen County Government, which would coordinate efforts by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and the National Police Agency (NPA) to ensure a stable transition, Lin said.
Lin declined to reveal details of the scale of the deployment of police and coast guard personnel on the two islets after the military redeploys.