Taiwan is considering building a bridge to mainland China in the latest sign of warming ties between the cross-Strait rivals, an official said Thursday.
President Ma Ying-jeou asked Taiwan’s top economic planners to conduct a feasibility study when he visited Kinmen, a Taiwan-controlled fortified island group off the Chinese mainland, in August.
The bridge would link Kinmen with Xiamen, a city in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, at a cost of up to 13.2 billion Taiwan dollars (390.5 million US).
“President Ma inquired about the progress of the feasibility study last night,” presidential office spokesman Wang Yu-chi told reporters.
But Wang denied reports that the president “ordered” construction of the proposed bridge, saying the final decision would depend on the results of the study.
The proposal is being seen as another litmus test of cross-Strait ties as Kinmen has been a constant reminder of lingering hostilities between the two sides since they split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.
The Chinese army fired more than 470,000 shells on Kinmen and several other islets in a 44-day artillery bombardment beginning on August 23, 1958, killing a total of 618 servicemen and civilians and injuring more than 2,600.
However, tensions across the Strait have eased since China-friendly President Ma was elected here in March vowing to boost the economy and improve ties with China.
The two sides in December launched historic direct daily flights, postal and shipping services, in a move expected to boost trade ties.
The Ma administration has reacted positively to Chinese President Hu Jintao’s call for a truce with the island.
The Taiwanese authorities have also put forward a plan to import water from China for residents on Kinmen by setting up pipes linking Fujian province to Kinmen.