Beijing warns against casinos on Taiwan's Kinmen Island

May 26, 2015 13:09
Taiwan hopes to attract more tourists like these disembarking on Kinmen Island from a ferry from the mainland. Photo: Bloomberg

Beijing has warned Taiwan against introducing casinos to Kinmen Island, just two kilometers off the coast of Fujian province, in an attempt to attract mainland tourists.

If it does, the mainland will revoke the "Three Small Links" -- direct trade, postal and transportation channels between the Taiwan-controlled islands of Kinmen and Matsu and the Fujian ports of Xiamen and Fuzhou -- the mainland’s top official in charge of cross-strait relations said.

Zhang Zhijun, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, told local industrial representatives at a seminar on Kinmen Sunday that both sides need to keep on the right track, Apple Daily Taiwan reported Tuesday.

Cross-strait peace is hard-earned, and no one should have to realize how precious it is only after losing it, Zhang said.

The remarks from Zhang, who held meetings with his Taiwanese counterpart, Andrew Hsia Li-yan, on Kinmen during the weekend, came as the government in Taipei has been considering whether to transform the islands Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu into resorts with casinos like Singapore's, mainly to attract mainland tourists.

In 2009, Taiwan passed legislation allowing residents of the three offshore islands to decide for themselves through a referendum whether to bring in casinos.

Large casino operators such as Caesars Entertainment Corp., MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands Corp. have assessed the feasibility of investing in Taiwan.

However, Beijing has strongly opposed any such plan.

After Matsu residents voted to say they wanted casinos in July 2012, a Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman immediately said a travel ban to Taiwan will be imposed if it opens offshore casinos.

Some of Taiwan’s lawmakers were clearly unhappy with Zhang’s tone.

Lai Chen-Chang, a legislator from the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union, said Zhang’s remarks were nothing but threats and interference with Taiwan’s autonomy.

Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng said the mainland’s policy and Taiwan’s proposed casino bill are two separate things.

Wang said legislating the bill is still a goal, but investors can make their own judgment as to whether to build casinos.

-- Contact us at [email protected]