Wednesday, June 29, 2005

On Kinmen Island, Residents Chafe at Not Being Part of China -- and other stories

Tim Johnson of Knight Ridder's Washington Bureau writes on the residents of Kinmen, "suffering" for being part of Taiwan.

But fear of colossal China, barely a few miles away, has given way to envy and frustration. Residents gaze across the water and see high-rises and late-model cars. They hear tales of new wealth and economic boom in China. Most can't travel there, though, and few free-spending Chinese tourists are permitted on the 45-minute boat ride to Kinmen Island. Tensions along the Taiwan Strait keep trade and travel to a minimum.

"We think it's nonsense," said Lee Juh-feng, a commissioner for Kinmen (pronounced "GIN mun") and a proponent on the 58-square-mile island for more open trade and freedom of movement.

"Taiwan is holding Kinmen as a pawn," Lee said.

I feel sad for the people of Kinmen, for there is no question that Kinmen and Matsu and the other offshore holdings of Taiwan belong to China. But China could take them back any time it wanted. It doesn't. Why? Because it wants the government in Taipei to have geographic link with the mainland.

Taiwan needs to enter into negotiations to return Kinmen to China. Most people on the island would probably welcome it. Taiwan also needs to return the treasures in the National Palace Museum. It's time to set ourselves free, folks.

In other news of impossible dreams regarding China, a group of Tibetans has filed a case in a Spanish court against Li Peng and Jiang for the savagery of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. It would be nice to see international action on Tibet.

The CS Monitor reports on the China threat in great detail, with many useful links, here.

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