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Premier to attend handover ceremony in Kinmen County

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) is scheduled to attend a handover ceremony at outlying Kinmen County next Monday to mark the transformation when the county government will officially take over the administration of two nearby islets formerly controlled by the military.

Sources close to the matter yesterday told local media that Jiang will be attending the ceremony when the two frontline islets near Kinmen — Dadan (大膽) and Erdan (二膽) — officially leave military control to come under the administration of the county government.

The visit to Kinmen came one month after the Cabinet announced their decision on the administrative handover scheduled for the end of June this year, after which the military is expected to reduce its presence there and turn over defense of the islands to the Coast Guard and local police force.

 The handover could make way for the opening of the two frontline islets to tourism from August 2017.

 However, Chinese tourists will not be allowed to visit for the time being for security reasons, according to local media reports.

 The two islets administered as part of Kinmen County lie only 7 nautical miles off Xiamen in China's Fujian province and are now occupied by military personnel and no civilians.

 Dadan covers an area of 0.79 square kilometers, while Erdan has a size of 0.28 square kilometers.

 Kinmen County Magistrate Li Wo-shi (李沃士) previously told local media that his government is going to overhaul the infrastructure on the two islets so that they can be ready for tourism.

Defense Minister's Visit

 Meanwhile, Defense Minister Yen Ming (嚴明) on Tuesday visited the two islets to be briefed by a military defense team stationed there prior to the handover.

 Speaking to troops stationed on the islets, Yen noted that Kinmen has played an important role in the R.O.C.'s defense history in fending off invading Chinese forces.

 Even though the military presence at the two islets will gradually decrease in the future to make way for tourists, Yen said the military will continue to be prepared in case they need to safeguard the nation's security.

 The R.O.C. Army Command yesterday told the Chinese-language United Evening News that it will continue to have around 60 Army soldiers stationed at the two islets despite the handover.

 A total of 12 tanks and military vehicles currently owned by the defense team, however, will be decommissioned and put on display as historic relics in the future.

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