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Evaluation of "Mini-Three-Links" and Directions for Improvement

  • Date:2006-12-29

December 29, 2006

Since the trial implementation of the “Mini-Three-Links” in Kinmen and Matsu on January 1, 2001, the government has in the past six years adjusted relevant policies after step-by-step reviews based on the principle of promoting related matters in a sequential and orderly manner. As such, the scale of the “Mini-Three-Links” has expanded day by day, which has not only provided convenience to the lives of the people in Kinmen and Matsu, but has also provided convenient channels to the Taiwanese people traveling to and from the Mainland Area. As of November 2006, the total number of people traveling across the Strait via the “Mini-Three-Links” route has reached 1.8412 million (both gross exit and gross entry); the volume of imported and exported goods via this route has reached more than NT$1.416 billion; and the number of sailings via this route has reached 13,400. Exchanges at all levels have become more frequent.

However, in the six years of implementation of the “Mini-Three-Links,” since both sides of the Strait still could not engage in effective negotiations, they have failed to make breakthroughs to remove certain bottlenecks, thus causing some problems to remain unresolved. For examples, the number of Taiwanese people traveling to China has exceeded that of the Chinese people visiting Taiwan; the import and export of goods has not yet been normalized, with the amount of Chinese goods exported to Taiwan exceeding that of Taiwan’s exports to China. Under such circumstances, the “Mini-Three-Links” have produced smaller economic benefits for the areas of Kinmen and Matsu than expected. Moreover, since the implementation of the “Mini-Three-Links,” although the long-existing illegal violations have been kept under control, they have not yet been entirely eliminated, and this has also affected the quality of the “Mini-Three-Links.”

After accumulating experience in our implementation of the “Mini-Three-Links,” the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) conducted a comprehensive assessment of the related policies and execution. We have obtained the following initial conclusions, namely, in the wake of the strengthening of the concept and the mechanism on “proactive management and effective liberalization” in the past two years, greater improvement has been made in the security management aspect of the “Mini-Three-Links”; however, due to the fact that both sides of the Strait could not yet conduct effective negotiations, the space for the expansion and relaxation of the “Mini-Three-Links” policy is still very limited. Fortunately, there is room for improvement in the execution of the “Mini-Three-Links.” After a thorough assessment, we will enhance the positive benefits of the “Mini-Three-Links” in Kinmen and Matsu by making adjustments according to the following measures:

I. Measures to improve personnel exchanges

A. Humanitarian considerations

1. We will normalize the demand for cross-strait personnel exchanges via the “Mini-Three-Links” route due to humanitarian considerations of the need to engage in emergency relief operations and related activities.

2. We will relax the scope of passengers allowed to travel across the Taiwan Strait via the “Mini-Three-Links” to include veterans from areas other than Fujian Province.

B. Providing convenience for commercial exchanges and professional exchanges

1. Officers and staff members of Taiwan-based parent companies that have invested in establishing enterprises in the Fujian Area may travel to Fujian to attend exhibitions, conferences, and other related commercial activities to be held there via the “Mini-Three-Links” route.

2. Commercial delegations attending and participating in exhibitions and other commercial exchange activities to be held in Fujian Province and having been granted special permission may travel across the Strait via the “Mini-Three-Links” route.

3. Delegations attending academic conferences or other activities to be held in Fujian Province and having been granted special permission may travel across the Strait via the “Mini-Three-Links” route.

4. Reasonable adjustments will be made to the review regulations governing charter flights and charter ships.

C. Improvement of management regulations governing the visit of Chinese tourists to Kinmen and Matsu for sightseeing to promote balanced exchanges of personnel in both directions

1. In response to China’s intention to allow Chinese residents living around the Fujian Area to visit Kinmen and Matsu, the MAC will consult with the Kinmen and Matsu county governments to make appropriate adjustments to the management regulations governing the visit of Chinese tourists to Kinmen and Matsu.

2. The following technical adjustments are being underway:

a. The proposed amendment to Paragraph 2 of Article 12 of the “Regulations Governing the Trial Operation of Transportation Links Between Kinmen/Matsu and the Mainland Area” will adjust the number of tourists per Chinese delegation intending to visit Kinmen and Matsu to over five persons and under 40 persons. (The current stipulation requires the number to be between 10 and 25 persons; this amendment will soon take effect once promulgated by the Executive Yuan.)

b. Measures will be taken to provide convenience in the management of the entry and exit of guides of Chinese tour delegations.

II. Measures to improve the import and export of goods

A. Facilitating the export of goods to China, and achieving the balanced between import and export

In order to minimize administrative and operational costs and to provide convenience to businesses, we will consider allowing China-bound Taiwanese goods below a certain amount of money, when transhipped via the “Mini-Three-Links” route, to be exempted from presenting the certificate issued by the Taiwanese Businessmen's Association during customs clearance.

B. Facilitating the normalized importation of daily necessities

In coordination with the county governments of Kinmen and Matsu, we will accelerate the implementation of the project for the importation of small-volume fish and agricultural products from the Mainland Area.

III. Measures for middle- and long-term improvement

A. Rendering assistance in the planning and establishment of a “goods trading center” in Kinmen and Matsu

B. Reinforcing communication mechanisms on the “Mini-Three-Links” between the central and local governments

As for the “Mini-Three-Links” implemented in Penghu, the current policy and regulations allow for the trial implementation of transportation links between Penghu and the Mainland Area on a special case-by-case basis. To date, the government has already approved four applications (in July 2002, a special permit was granted to allow the religious people in Penghu to hold religious pilgrimage trip to China via the maritime transportation route between Makung and Quanzhou; in September 2005, the Penghu Association of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises made a special application for engaging in commercial exchanges with China via the maritime route between Penghu and China; In June 2006, the Penghu County Industrial Development and Investment Promotion Committee held the First Penghu International Cosmetics, Home Appliances, and Gifts Exhibition and Cross-strait Outstanding Home Appliances and Gifts Exhibition; In October 2006, the Penghu County Cultural Foundation invited a cultural delegation from Quanzhou to attend Cross-strait Cultural Exchange Week activities in Penghu. The special application filed by the Penghu Association of Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises for commercial links between Penghu and China was not carried out for some reasons). It is observed that the applications filed by Penghu’s local groups during the trial implementation of the “Mini-Three-Links” are fewer not because of strict review mechanisms carried out by the responsible authorities but because of lesser demand from the locals. Due to considerations that Penghu is proximate to the main island of Taiwan and that Penghu is situated in a very important strategic position, from the perspective of current cross-strait relations, there are still no objective conditions favoring the implementation of regularized “Mini-Three-Links” in Penghu. However, considering the views of the Penghu residents, the government has after a comprehensive review and evaluation decided that, under the precondition that the policy to implement the “Mini-Three-Links” in Penghu on a trial and special base-by-case basis will remain unchanged, we will study and consider enabling Penghu residents to travel to the Mainland Area via Kinmen and Matsu based on the existing foundation of the “Mini-Three-Links” implemented in Kinmen and Matsu, as well as amplify the incentives for the trial implementation of the “Mini-Three-Links” scheme. We will also amend the relevant regulations according to the actual needs for the smooth implementation of the importation of sand and gravel into Penghu from the Mainland Area on a special case-by-case basis.

With regard to the related adjustments to the “Mini-Three-Links” scheme implemented in Kinmen and Matsu and the special “Mini-Three-Links” scheme implemented in Penghu, the MAC will invite the relevant agencies for further discussion of the details. We will carry out the adjustments once we have completed the various administrative procedures. At the same time, we will continue to reinforce the security management measures for the “Mini-Three-Links” to enable it to produce greater positive effects.