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Taiwan to open Cold War battleground island for tourism from March 1

2019/01/15 21:19:39

CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 15 (CNA) A Taiwan-held island off the coast of China that was a major battleground during the Cold War will be opened to the public as a tourist destination, starting March 1, the Kinmen County Tourism Department said Tuesday.

Dadan Island

However, visitors will have to apply ahead of time to visit Dadan Island, which is part of Kinmen County, the department said, adding that it will begin accepting applications on Feb. 12.

In addition, Chinese nationals, including those living in Hong Kong and Macau, will not be permitted to visit the island, the department said.

The number of visitors will be limited to 150 per day and admission tickets will cost NT$1,500 (US$48.67), which will include the return ferry trip, electric shuttle bus rides and group tour guide services, while residents of Kinmen will get a discounted price of NT$750, the department said.

The ferry will run from Jiugong Pier in Lieyu Township, taking 30 minutes to Dadan Island, the department said.

The decision to open the 0.79-square-kilometer Dadan Island to visitors with effect from March 1 followed a trial run last year from July 26 to Oct. 31, during which 3,061 people visited the island, bringing in revenue of NT$4.9 million, according to the Tourism Department.

The Republic of China (Taiwan) military presence on Dadan and neighboring Erdan islands dates back to 1949, when the ROC government relocated to Taiwan after losing to mainland China communist forces in a civil war.

The islets were the site of a fierce battle on July 26, 1950 as the communists set their sights on capturing ROC-held islands near China in the Taiwan Strait.

Military facilities on Dadan Island

Communist forces fired a volley of shells before landing 700 soldiers on Dadan's beaches. Faced with the larger Communist Chinese invasion force, 298 ROC soldiers on Dadan fought for more than 10 bloody hours and emerged victorious the next day.

CNA file photo

On Erdan, 39 ROC soldiers defended the 0.28 islet against an onslaught by Chinese forces.

For many years, the two islands continued to bear the brunt of the exchanges of fire across the Taiwan Strait, including the Aug. 23 Artillery Battle of 1958, when they were hit by more than 100,000 shells fired by China.

In 2014, the administration of the two small islands, which are located just over four kilometers from the Chinese city of Xiamen, was transferred from the ROC military to the Kinmen County government.

Sights and sounds of Kinmen's frontline islets

(By Huang Huei-min and William Yen)