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Outlying Kinmen County to oversee Dadan, Erdan islands

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The frontline islets of Dadan and Erdan will be transferred from the military to the local government of outlying Kinmen County June 30, after which the military is expected to reduce its presence there and turn over defense of the islands to the Coast Guard Administration and the police.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah will preside over the handover ceremony of the islets, which are part of the Kinmen archipelago.

It is hoped that the transfer will reposition the islets as a tourist destination and boost the local economy, as well as give the public easier access to an important part of Taiwan's history, according to the government.

Dadan and Erdan were the focus of heavy artillery battles with communist Chinese forces in 1950 and again in 1958.

Located just over four kilometers from the Chinese city of Xiamen, the islets are known as “the frontline of the frontlines.” Their distance from the main island of Kinmen is nearly three times as great.

Besides attending the ceremony, Jiang will tour historic military relics on Dadan, including rocks inscribed with Chinese characters as reminders of the Republic of China's national status to the soldiers stationed there.

He will also be briefed by Kinmen county officials on future tourism projects on the islets, including a duty free center, part of a vision outlined by Kinmen Magistrate Li Wo-shi last year to build the county into a “duty free island.”

Upon completion, the center will be the largest of its kind in Asia, according to county government officials.

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