LIFE GOES ON
Kinmen is a former battleground where residents had to contend with occasional shelling from Chinese artillery into the late 1970s.
But the islets opened up to tourists in 1993 and have never looked back.
Wartime relics and monuments of its militarised past are star attractions, regardless of Kinmen’s proximity to China and the lingering threat of invasion.
“There is no use worrying (about a Chinese invasion). We should be calm and get on with our lives,” said Vanessa Chu, 52, who travelled from the coastal city of Hsinchu.
“I hope for peace, as Taiwan is small and if the tensions continue, Taiwan will suffer more than China,” she added, speaking alongside her two sons.
Many Kinmen residents hold favourable views of China after years of close trade and tourism ties – the island’s main source of drinking water is a pipeline from the mainland.
Yet visitors from China are currently banned from travelling there because of Taiwan’s strict COVID-19 rules, which are similar to Beijing’s.
The Chinese Communist Party views the whole of Taiwan as part of its territory waiting to be “unified” one day, by force if necessary.
But on the other side of the strait in Xiamen, residents carry on with life much the same as those on the Kinmen beaches.
A young bride smiles and poses for a photoshoot on the sand while a man offers tourists binoculars to observe the small islands China bombarded over half a century earlier, killing more than 600 people.