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June 23, 2017

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Kinmen takes over two frontline islets

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday attended a handover ceremony in Kinmen County (金門縣) to mark the county government's taking control of two nearby islets formerly controlled by the military.

The administration authority over the two frontline islets — Dadan (大膽島) and Erdan (二膽島) — officially switched from the military to the Kinmen administration today.

During the handover ceremony yesterday afternoon, Jiang said he expects Kinmen will treasure the two frontline islets that have been protected by numerous military personnel over the past few decades. Jiang said he hopes the county government will work with the executive branch to make the Dadan and Erdan islets important assets for Kinmen's tourism industry.

Conditional Opening for Tourism in 2015

Kinmen County Magistrate Li Wo-shi (李沃士) said his government is expected to spend around one year overhauling infrastructure on the two islets so that they can be ready for tourism, which means the two islets will not be opened for tourists before July 1 of next year.

The islets were previously occupied by military personnel and no civilians before the administration transfer.

After Dandan and Erdan islets are opened for tourism in 2015, Li said the two islets will be first opened for R.O.C student groups of children and young adults, and for retired military personnel that once served on the two islets.

Li further noted that Kinmen will only accept 120 tourists per day, adding that tourists will not be allowed to stay overnight on the two frontline islets.

The magistrate said Chinese tourists will not be allowed to visit for the time being for security reasons, noting that, however, Kinmen will assess the feasibility of completely opening the two islets for tourism in 2017.

Government Won't Withdraw Troops

Jiang said Dadan and Erdan have always been military strongholds for the Republic of China, noting that it wasn't until the opening of direct cross-Taiwan Strait flights and ferry services in 2008 that the nation's military strategy was altered somewhat.

Jiang stressed that the government will not withdraw troops from Dadan and Erdan islets, however, and will gradually hand over the restricted lands and forts to the Kinmen County Government to boost local tourism.

Defense Minister Yen Ming recently said that the military will continue to be prepared in case they need to safeguard the country's security. The R.O.C. Army Command said that it will continue to have around 50 or 60 Army soldiers stationed at the two islets despite the handover.

The two islets administered as part of Kinmen County lie only 7 nautical miles off Xiamen (廈門) of China's Fujian province (福建省). Dadan covers an area of 0.79 square kilometers, while Erdan covers 0.28 square kilometers.

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