Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou Urges Peace With Symbolic Bell in Kinmen

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Fifty-three years ago, Taiwan's Kinmen Island was a place of hostile exchange. Mainland China's communist forces bombarded it with artilleries, killing hundreds of civilians and servicemen. Decades later, hostilities have eased, and the island is now one of the busiest travel links across the Taiwan Strait. And Taiwan's president wants this peace to last. To help do just that, he inaugurated a "Peace Bell" in a ceremony in Kinmen on Tuesday. Here's that report.

The sound of peace came from an unusual bell. On Tuesday, Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, called for continued peace across the Taiwan Strait, as he and guests sounded the Peace Bell in Kinmen.

Fifty-three years ago, the island county came under artillery attack from mainland China, on August 23, 1958. More than 480-thousand shells rained down for 44 days. Some of those shells now form part of this bell to mark changed times.

[Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwanese President]:
"The Kinmen Island has already transformed from a bloody battle field into the route for cross-strait peace. Everyday, an average of about 3,600 tourists come to Taiwan through Kinmen and more than 1,300,000 tourists [from the Mainland] visit Taiwan. The Kinmen Island has become the channel for the Three Links. People in the past could not even imagine this would happen."

The ceremony, attended by guests including former South African president Willem de Klerk, is part of a series of events to celebrate the centenary of Taiwan—officially known as the Republic of China.

Founded decades before the communist-ruled People's Republic of China, the ROC government retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Chinese Communist Party.