Enclosing resources on the islands of Kinmen and Xiamen: From war blockade to financializing natural heritage

Huei Min Tsai*, Bo Wei Chiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The cultures of the islands of Kinmen and Xiamen, also respectively Quemoy and Amoy, are tightly interwoven with the South China coastal region of Fujian. Both archipelagos played important historical roles in coastal defense and have been home to many Overseas Chinese since the 19th Century. A decisive battle in the Chinese Civil War was fought on Kinmen in 1949, cutting off Kinmen's connection with Xiamen and Fujian. Positioned on a critical frontier between the 'free world' and the 'communist world', self-sufficiency became militarily important in the event of a blockade. After 1979, Xiamen was designated as a special economic zone attracting large flows of foreign investment and experiencing rapid urban development. Since 2002 the scheduled ferries between Kinmen and Xiamen reopened connections between Kinmen and its neighbor cities in the People's Republic of China. Renewed exchange highlighted the remarkable differences between the two archipelagos' developmental paths that had developed over the course of the 53-year suspension of contact. This paper analyzes these divergent developmental paths through comparative case studies involving forms of enclosure. The wetland conservation at Tzi Lake in Kinmen as well as gentrified residential developments around Yuan-dan Lake in Xiamen are compared; changing relationships, the impact of the sudden re-opening of borders, new forms of enclosure under globalization; and regional flows of capitals are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-77
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Marine and Island Cultures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Dec 1


  • Islands
  • Kinmen
  • Special economical zone
  • Taiwan strait
  • Xiamen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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