The Mainland Affairs Council moved to temporarily suspend the "small three links" yesterday in response to Kinmen residents' growing concern over the spread of SARS.
The council reached the decision after Kinmen County Council asked the central government on Thursday for permission to halt direct links -- for one month -- between Kinmen and the Chinese cities of Xiamen and Fuzhou.
"In an effort to attend to Kinmen residents' concern, the council, after deliberating the issue with other government agencies, had decided to suspend Kinmen's small three links with China," said council Vice Chairman Johnnason Liu (劉德勳)
"The suspension of Kinmen's small three links is effective immediately," Liu said. "The suspension will be lifted at a time we deem appropriate, pending the SARS situation."
Administrative procedures for permission to use the links, however, will remain in operation.
Kinmen County Commissioner Lee Chu-feng (李炷烽), who had not been keen on the idea of a temporary suspension when the Kinmen County Council first made the request to the Kinmen County Government in late March, said on Thursday that he fully supported the council's resolution to halt the links in a bid to curb the spread of SARS
Kinmen's first reported SARS case occurred this week. A 42-year-old women, who had flown from Taipei to Kinmen on May 2 to attend a family funeral, fell ill on May 6 and died of SARS on Wednesday.
The small three links were initiated in January 2001 to allow trade and transportation links between Kinmen and Lienchiang County and China's Fujian Province.
Fujian is next to Guangdong Province, where most SARS cases in China have been reported and where the SARS outbreak is believed to have originated.