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Mainland Affairs Council

Cross-Strait Exchanges Archives

Overview of the Provisional Implementation of “Mini-three-links” between the Offshore Islands of Kinmen & Matsu and Mainland China

Prepared by the Mainland Affairs Council
December 18, 2000
(Taipei)

  • Introduction
The provisional implementation of the "mini-three-links" is in accordance with Article 18 of the "Statute for the Development of Offshore Islands" (hereinafter referred to as the "Statute"), which was promulgated on April 5th 2000. Article 18 of the Statute refers to provisional shipping links between the offshore islands and Mainland China. Following thorough assessment, careful planning and intensive preparation, the Government will provisionally implement direct shipping between the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, and Mainland China, effective from January 1, 2001. The decision of the Government marks a new development phase for the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, as well as demonstrating significant goodwill toward the other side in the cross-strait relationship.

 

  • Why the "mini-three-links"?
There are two key objectives in the implementation of the "mini-three-links". First of all, the implementation of the "mini-three-links" aims to facilitate economic growth and development of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu. The underlying intentions are to enhance the quality of life on the offshore islands, fulfill the residents?demand for daily necessities and decriminalize certain essential economic activities which are considered illegal when direct shipping and trade is not allowed. In addition, the plan aims to enhance economic prosperity through direct shipping, two-way flow of people and goods with Mainland China.

Secondly, the implementation of the "mini-three-links" aims to improve the cross-strait relationship through positive and constructive exchanges between the two sides. At the local level, due to the geographic proximity between the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, and the Fujian Province of Mainland China, the exchanges will bring them closer in terms of economic, social and cultural development. The "mini-three-links" will strengthen the ties between the two sides, while improving the well-being of the residents. In terms of the overall cross-strait relationship, the "mini-three-links" will serve as an impetus in improving the relationship through meaningful exchanges.

 

  • Guiding principles of the provisional mini-three-links
The implementation of the provisional "mini-three-links" is based on three key guiding principles.

 

  1. National security
    In the implementation of the "mini-three-links", the highest consideration and priority is given to the assurance of national security. This consideration is factored in all areas under assessment for opening.
  2. Institutionalization
    The institutionalization of the implementation process of the "mini-three-links" will, on the one hand, ensure regulated commercial activities and exchanges between the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, and Mainland China, and to reduce incidences of unlawful activities, i.e., the decriminalization aspect of the plan for the "mini-three-links". On the other hand, institutionalization will prepare the Government for possible effects of opening, such as the surge in illegal immigrants, smuggling activities, over-stays and so forth.
  3. Progressive implementation
    The "mini-three-links" will be implemented progressively, i.e., in stages. The initial stage involves decriminalizing or legitimizing certain essential economic activities which are considered illegal when direct shipping and trade is not allowed. At this stage, implementation will complement the needs for maintaining social order. The next stage will involve increasing bilateral exchange of commercial activities to make the operation more economically meaningful.
  • At the Initial Stage
At the initial stage, there are two aspects to the implementation of the "mini-three-links". The first aspect is to allow residents of Kinmen and Matsu to conduct direct trade and shipping with Mainland China. Items permitted at this stage are:
(i) Passenger or cargo vessels of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu are permitted, with prior approval, to carry passengers or goods between the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, and the Fujian Province of Mainland China.
(ii) Existing fishing vessels of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu may, in accordance with the guidelines established by the Kinmen or Matsu County (Hsien) government, sail directly to Mainland China.
(iii) Residents of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, and companies may conduct trade directly with Mainland China. Daily necessities required by residents of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu may be directly imported from Mainland China.
(iv) Residents of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu may, with prior approval, travel between Kinmen and Mainland China or between Matsu and Mainland China, without traveling via the Taiwan main island, Hong Kong or Macao.
The second aspect of the implementation of the "mini-three-links" is, under the assurance of risk management, along with comprehensive contingency measures, permit the entry of ships, goods and people of Mainland China to the offshore islands of Kinmen or Matsu. Items permitted at this stage are:
(i) Passenger or cargo vessels of Mainland China, with prior approval, may carry passengers or goods between Kinmen and the Fujian Province of Mainland China, or between Matsu and the Fujian Province of Mainland China.
(ii) Enterprises of Mainland China may conduct trade directly with residents of the offshore islands of Kinmen or Matsu, or companies.
(iii) Residents of Mainland China, with prior approval, may enter the offshore islands of Kinmen or Matsu to conduct commercial activities or academic exchanges, visit relatives or the sick, attend funerals, or travel as tourists. At the first stage, the number of residents of Mainland China permitted to stay on the offshore islands, on a daily basis is: 700 for Kinmen and 100 for Matsu.
  • The "mini-three-links" and bilateral consultation
Implementation priorities of the "mini-three-links" are (i) decriminalization or legalization of certain economic activities and (ii) items that we can implement unilaterally. A major consideration is that Mainland China has, for some years, already implemented certain liberalization measures. In this context, the plan for the corresponding implementation of the "mini-three-links" at the initial stage maybe implemented without the necessity of bilateral negotiation.

Despite so, bilateral negotiation will not only contribute to the orderly implementation of the "mini-three-links", but will serve as the opportunity to broaden the scope of the operation. The "mini-three-links" is due for implementation from January 1, 2001 and we remain hopeful for bilateral consultation on matters relating to the "mini-three-links". Not only will the dialogue enhance the normalization of exchanges between the residents of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, and Mainland China, but will also enhance the well-being of the people on both sides of the Strait.

The Prime Minister has announced that the goal of the implementation of the "mini-three-links" is to enhance the economic prosperity and development of the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, as well as to have meaningful exchanges between the two sides of the Strait. We hope the "mini-three-links" can serve as the mechanism to resuming cross-strait dialogue and we are hopeful it will contribute positively to improving the overall cross-strait relationship.

 

  • Post-"mini-three-links": future prospects for Kinmen and Matsu
The effective implementation of the "mini-three-links" will benefit residents on the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu in the following ways:
  1. Enhanced security
    In preparing for the launch of the "mini-three-links", and to ensure effective protection of the residents in the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, the agencies responsible for residents?security, such as the police administration, coast guards, and inspection mechanisms have all strengthened their operations in Kinmen and Matsu, by means of increasing the number of people stationed on the islands as well as installing equipment.
  2. Improved economic development
    Following the implementation of the "mini-three-links", not only will it reduce the cost of acquiring daily necessities by residents in the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, public construction will also benefit from lowered costs with imports of gravel and steel from Mainland China. In addition, the implementation of the "mini-three-links" is expected to increase commercial activities and tourism, which will in turn benefit local economic prosperity. From the medium to long-term perspective, as the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu may be developed as a midway station for the exchange of goods between the two sides of the Strait, the two offshore islands may be further developed as a hub for tourism, shopping and vacations.
  • Positive outlook for the cross-strait relationship
The provisional implementation plan of the "mini-three-links", with assurance of national security and social order, and taking due account of the prevailing conditions, may be progressively expanded. The direction is towards stability and normalization of exchanges between the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu, and Mainland China. We believe work in this direction will contribute towards constructing a meaningful cross-strait relationship.