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Thu, Feb 08, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Ex-Kinmen natives speak of loss

LOOKING BACK For many of the returnees, the trip home to the Taiwan-held island has provoked memories of separation, loved ones lost and the Chinese Civil War

By Chuang Chi-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN KINMEN

Little Kinmen resident Hung Si-fu, 75, walks by an air-raid shelter near his house yesterday on his way to a banquet for the visitors from Xiamen. The shelter was built in 1965 and bears the slogans, "Everyone fight" and "Subdue the enemy on all fronts" engraved on the gate.


A group of senior citizens, all former residents of Kinmen, who returned to Kinmen for the first time in over 50 years on Tuesday, yesterday paid their first visits to their old homes and relatives who have remained on the Taiwan-held islands.

Kinmen is located only 2km off the coast of China and approximately 280km from Taiwan proper. Transportation between Kinmen and Fujian-proper was frequent before 1949. But some Kinmen residents who traveled across into the mainland during the civil war between the KMT and communists were left stranded after the KMT withdrew to Taiwan in 1949.

Hung You-li (洪有利) from Xiamen is typical of those who have experienced such separation. Originally from Liehyu (烈嶼), an islet off Kinmen otherwise known as Little Kinmen, he left to visit his aunt and other relatives because his parents were dead and Liehyu was in a state of chaos after the KMT had taken over Kinmen in 1945. But he was not able to return for 52 years.

Hung Chuen-hui (洪春暉), a Liehyu resident, explained that the KMT troops at that time "were of poor quality," and had disrupted the lives of local people.

"I could hardly recognize the surroundings. They have all changed greatly ? But yes, I know that temple, and that is her house ?" Hong Youli said, looking out of the window of the van on his way to see his sister. He recalled leading his sister to the house during a traditional ceremony following her wedding.

Hung Yuan (洪怨), his 82-year-old sister who is hard of hearing, however, did not expect her only brother, who had not returned home in half a century, to appear on her doorstep until yesterday.

Hung Yuan, looking very weak, met her brother at the house where she lives alone following her husband's death.

Effects of the 'small three links' so far this year

* Since Jan. 1, Taiwan allows residents of Kinmen and Matsu to sail directly to China.

* On Jan. 2, Taiwan sent the first two boats to make an official trip to China in nearly 52 years.

* On Feb. 6, former residents of Kinmen now living in China returned to Kinmen for the first time in over 50 years.

Source: Taipei Times

"I can't recognize his face. He has grown old, and me too ? We haven't met for almost a lifetime," said the aged woman. She seemed hesitant to engage in conversation with her brother until he mentioned the names of people they both knew -- many of them now dead.

"I have your picture," said Youli, taking out some photographs, before the brother and sister started chatting away about their family.

Youli, unlike other returnees, looked at ease as he visited the sister who could only totter a few steps to see her brother off after the two-hour visit.

"I will take her to stay with the rest of my family in Xiamen," said Youli slowly. Then, after a moment of silence during which he saw his sister wave goodbye while while wiping away tears, the 70-year-old spoke his innermost emotions.

"I can't cry ? otherwise she will shed more tears, which is not good for her health.

Moreover, seeing her cry will make it too difficult to turn my back on her and leave ?"

"I have many concerns ? but I'm also considering moving back to my hometown," Youli said.

"You know, people always feel like clinging to where they were born ?"

Youli married in China, where he now has seven children.

Despite the long separation from his family in Kinmen, Youli was not the most unfortunate of the returnees. Many did not survive for long enough to see their original homes again.

"Your third uncle's wife visited me once in Xiamen a long time ago. I went to her house a few years later but was unable to find her," Youli said to Chuen-hui, as the latter accompanied him during the visit. Youli hadn't known that the woman had been killed during the civil war.

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