Today, a bridge is being built between Greater and Lesser Kinmen Islands. Tomorrow, Taiwan may find itself linked to the Chinese mainland.
For many years Taiwan has been trying to build a bridge between Greater and Lesser Kinmen Islands. The purpose, they state, is to increase tourism and to help with the development of the later. For many years Taiwanese engineers have tried building this bridge, but they’ve failed. There is a feat of engineering that is inherent to this project, and Taiwan simply can’t pull it off . . . alone.
Though the islands are only not extremely far apart (5.4 km), to build a bridge between the two requires the construction of the largest span ever, being over one kilometer long. This has never been done before.
For years mainland China has offered to help Taiwan build the bridge. They have the know-how and the umpf. But this has been a controversial issue in Taiwan, fearing that the next logical step from the PRC helping build a bridge between Greater and Little Kinmen Islands would be the PRC helping to build a bridge connecting Taiwan to the mainland (Little Kinmen Island is just 5km from the coast of Xiamen).
This proposition is not unfounded. A bridge between Xiamen and Kinmen has been on the table for years. Kinmen’s local government has approved the plan and they’re just waiting for the national government of Taiwan to do the same. The PRC is frothing at the bit. In fact, Chen Guangbiao, the Chinese billionaire, high-profile philanthropist, and international dufus has already put up a billion Yuan to get the project rolling, claiming that a bridge would turn Kinmen into a “paradise for shoppers and travelers, especially for those from China.” It is thought that such a bridge could be built as soon as 2019.
Kinmen is now one of the most culturally pristine places on the planet, and one of the last places to see “old Chinese culture” as it has gradually evolved. This is a place full of traditional architecture, ancient villages, and old traditions that has remarkably kept the globalized world at bay. A bridge threatens this — though both bridges are things that the majority of Kinmen residents are said to want.
Eventually, Taiwan relented and the Kinmen bridge became the first engineering project in Taiwan featuring a cross-straits partnership. Chinese engineers, ships, and materials are being used to build it, and completion is expected around 2017.