Mon, Oct 18, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Kinmen seeks to develop six demilitarized islets

CNA , KINMEN

The Kinmen County Government is ready to take control of six small islets near Kinmen after the military transfer the administration of these areas, Deputy County Commissioner Yang Chung-chuan (楊忠全) said yesterday.

The county government will make the most of this chance to develop tourism and trade in the areas to turn Kinmen, formerly an anti-communism stronghold, into a "bridge of peace" across the Taiwan Strait, Yang claimed.

Basically, Yang asserted, the county government will only take over the jurisdiction of the six islets -- Tatan, Ertan, Tungting, Peiting, Shihyu and Menghuyu -- but will not be responsible for defending them.

After the transfer of the six islets, probably on Jan. 1, next year the Coast Guard Administration will be responsible for their defense and the National Police Administration will help keep social order, Yang said.

"There will be no interruption in social order before, during or after the transfer period," he said.

According to Yang, the six islets have been purely military for more than five decades.

"These islets were completely off-limits to civilians, even to Kinmen residents," Yang said.

Many people, including multinational companies, have been keen to learn of the demilitarization -- some suggesting that the islets be developed into eco-sanctuaries, and some are looking into the feasibility of developing them into resorts with casinos, while others say the islets should be kept as museums of military history, according to Yang.

In preparation for the takeover, the Kinmen County Government has commissioned National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences to conduct a tourism resources survey of Tatan and Ertan.

Tungting and Peiting are known as "the islets of lights," because they are the only two islets to have lighthouses. The Tungting lighthouse was built in 1871 and the Peiting lighthouse was built in 1882.

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