Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) yesterday said that he had not heard any comments from his Chinese counterpart, Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), on a possible termination of the “small three links” between outlying Kinmen and China.
However, on the sidelines of a seminar on political developments in China, Hsia said that if Zhang did talk about a possible halt to the links should Kinmen develop a casino business, the comments were “inappropriate.”
According to local media reports, Zhang, during a visit to Kinmen with Hsia last weekend, said that if Kinmen wants to use casinos to attract Chinese visitors, China would cut the links.
Since Jan. 1, 2001, Taiwan and China have had direct trade, postal and transportation links between Taiwan’s islands of Kinmen and Matsu, and the Fujian ports of Xiamen, Quanzhou and Fuzhou.
The local media cited the TAO as saying that Zhang told a group of Kinmen entrepreneurs at a meeting that Kinmen could not count on the development of casino business to attract more Chinese tourists.
The reports came at a time when Taiwan plans to transform some of its outlying islands, including Kinmen, into casino resorts as part of the nation’s efforts to lure more foreign tourists.
MAC Deputy Minister Lin Chu-chia (林祖嘉) said he heard nothing from Zhang during the meeting about cutting the links.
Hsia said the government has repeatedly told China that the links have made great contributions to improved ties across the Taiwan Strait and that in his meeting with Zhang on Saturday, both sides agreed to improve trade ties.
According to the MAC, a total of 5,683 passenger and 609 cargo boats from Kinmen and Matsu used the three links to go to China last year, while a total of 4,493 passenger and 248 cargo vessels came from Fujian to Taiwan.
TAO spokeswoman Fan Liqing (范麗青) said that because her country bans gambling, Chinese tourists would not be allowed to gamble in Taiwan.
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