Tue, Jul 31, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Kinmen ceremony becomes a presentation

NATIONAL PRESSURE:Water imports from China to Kinmen County are to begin as scheduled, the county commissioner said, adding that residents’ rights are the priority

Staff writer, with CNA

A dispute between the nation’s top agency in charge of China policy and the local government of outlying Kinmen County brought days without a compromise, but has ended with a ceremony planned to mark the start of water imports from China’s Fujian Province to Kinmen being downgraded to a presentation of county administration achievements.

Water imports are to begin on Sunday as scheduled, Kinmen County Commissioner Chen Fu-hai (陳福海) said in a statement yesterday, adding that “the rights and interests of county residents should be the top priority.”

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Friday instructed the county to postpone a planned dedication ceremony amid Beijing’s increasing efforts to limit Taiwan’s space on the international stage, especially in the wake of its push on Tuesday last week to revoke Taichung’s right to host the first East Asian Youth Games next year.

Refusing to toe the line, the county government instead asked the MAC to reconsider its position.

Chen said he fully respected that the MAC considered the ceremony’s timing to be “inappropriate,” but added that the “ceremony” was simply an event to thank those involved in bringing together the water deal between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The crucial thing was for the imports to begin as planned, he said.

After several days of trying to resolve differences between the national agency and the county government, a decision was made on Sunday that the ceremony would be streamlined into a “presentation of county administration achievements” to be attended only by Kinmen residents and those directly involved in the water project, sources familiar with the matter said.

The dedication ceremony would have invited the participation of officials from Taiwanese and Chinese government departments.

However, MAC officials decided not to attend and the Chinese officials were not expected to obtain permission from Taiwanese authorities to attend, the sources said.

The dispute was finally resolved after the MAC released a statement late on Sunday that there would not be a so-called “ceremony,” as neither Taiwanese nor Chinese government officials would attend.

In 2015, facing a possible water shortage due to a combination of factors — including a lack of precipitation, the absence of large dams and a growing number of Chinese tourists — Kinmen’s water authority signed a 30-year purchase agreement with its counterpart in Fujian to meet its water demands.

The construction of a 17km water main connecting reservoirs on both sides of the Strait was completed earlier this year and is expected to provide about 30 percent of the island’s total water supply, government data showed.

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