The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a draft proposal to expand permit-free travel to China from Kinmen and Matsu for Fujian-based businessmen, relatives of Kinmen and Matsu residents and Fujian-based Chinese spouses of Taiwanese citizens.
The proposal would also allow goods required by Taiwanese companies in Fujian Province to be shipped via the same routes and make all natives of Kinmen and Matsu who are domiciled in Taiwan eligible for permission to travel to China from the two islands on a case-by-case basis.
The policy is aimed at boosting economic activity in Kinmen and Matsu and eliminating the illegal trade which now prevails in the offshore areas of the islands.
Fu Don-cheng (
The move comes one and one half years after the implementation of the "small three links" policy, to which China remains cold.
The Kinmen and Matsu county governments had requested the moves.
In terms of personnel exchanges, three categories of personnel will join residents of Kinmen and Matsu in enjoying the convenience of traveling via the "small three links" without getting permission from the government in advance.
The three categories are the thousands of registered Fujian-based Taiwanese businessmen; Kinmen and Matsu residents' spouses, parents and children who live in Taiwan; and the more than 20,000 Fujian-based Chinese brides and their Taiwanese spouses, children and parents.
In addition, people born on Kinmen and Matsu but currently living in Taiwan proper can travel via the small three links channels but have to apply to do so on a case-by-case basis. There are an estimated 300,000 people who can benefit from this measure, according to Fu
In terms of goods transferring via the "small three links," the Cabinet allowed limited goods from Taiwan proper which are needed by Fujian-based Taiwanese businesspeople under the premise that the shipment get permission from both Taiwanese and Chinese authorities.
According to Fu, these goods would be mainly raw materials and semi-finished electronic components. But the list of items opened is not finalized yet.
"We have to discuss this with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and will propose a list of items to be opened by the end of July," he said.
Further, according to the proposal, Kinmen and Matsu will also enjoy the privilege of importing currently banned agricultural products such as beans, mushrooms and sugar from China, but will not be allowed to transfer the goods to Taiwan proper.
Fu also announced that reductions and in some cases removals of import tariffs will follow in August in a bid to normalize trade activities between Kinmen and Matsu and China. The detailed plan for each item and tax rate will be announced by the end of August.
Although many Chinese agricultural goods are currently available for Kinmen and Matsu residents, most of them are imported via illegal channels, such as small-volume trade between fishermen off the Kinmen and Matsu coast.
Fu said the new measures will coincide with a strengthening of moves to counter illegal trade.
Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday that by expanding the "small three links," the government hopes to create more commercial niches for residents in Kinmen and Matsu and eliminate illegal trade.