What you need to know
Massive construction projects in Xiamen have led to Chinese sand miners illegally extracting from Kinmen. These activities both reduce the size of the coastline and harm the ecological environment in Kinmen. Scientists believe that Kinmen may not be the only victim.
Compiled and translated by Yuan-ling Liang
From 2007 to 2012, the coastline in parts of Taiwan-governed Kinmen has reduced more than 200 meters and the total land loss currently adds up to 250,000 square meters, which is about as large as Daan Forest Park. Many experts believe this phenomenon can be attributed to illegal Chinese sand miners operating along the coast.
Kinmen, which has a population of more than 120,000, is located off just the coast of southeastern China.
Constructions in Xiamen leads to high demand for sand
According to Kinmen locals, there are currently several huge construction projects in Xiamen, China, and Chinese companies continue to travel to Kinmen to extract sand.
Liberty Times reports, in 2015, the Control Yuan witnessed illegal mining activities in Kinmen and Xiamen during its investigation in Kuningtou. According to the Control Yuan, the sand mining has caused a reduction in the coastline and harmed the ecological environment of Kinmen.
Although the Coast Guard Administration of Taiwan has been investigating the situation, the number of illegal miners caught last year was less than five years ago. Only two mining boats were caught last year. Investigations show that the Chinese miners receive tip-offs and know how to dodge authorities, so it has become more difficult to arrest them.
In the past five years, the Kinmen government has brought up this issue with Chinese officials more than 20 times. It was also brought up in the Xia-Chang meeting last year. Both parties formed investigation groups to raid the illegal miners. The Kinmen government promises to keep tracking the situation and continue to cooperate with China.
Taiwan not the only victim
UDN reports, Wu Chi-teng, director of the Kinmen Environmental Education Association, points out that since granite makes up most of the geological environment in Kinmen, the region is prone to weathering and erosion.
“If these Chinese offenders keep mining, not only Kinmen, but also Xiamen coastlines would become the victim of these illegal activities. Meanwhile, serious land subsidence would follow coastline reduction,” says Wu. [Quote translated]
CommonWealth reports, Hung Ching-chang, an environment observer, says that the illegal mining activities have been going on for more than ten years and that many blockhouses have collapsed due to the issue. This potentially harms the territorial security of Kinmen. Hung also believes that enforcing the prohibition and investigation of illegal sand mining would alleviate the harm.
Lin Tsung-yi, associate professor at the Department of Geology of National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), has researched Taiwan’s coastline change. According to Lin’s research, huge marine construction projects on the coast of China may also be the cause of Kinmen’s coastline reduction since changes in the shape of coastlines may affect regional ocean currents and cause erosion in Kinmen – the relationship is still under investigation.
Edited by Olivia Yang