The Kinmen Agreement or Kinmen Accord (simplified Chinese: 金门协议; traditional Chinese: 金門協議; pinyin: Jīnmén Xiéyì) is an agreement between Red Cross Society of the Republic of China and Red Cross Society of China in Kinmen, Fujian Province, Republic of China. It is the first formal agreement reached by private organizations across the Taiwan Strait. The agreement was provoked by the Min Ping Yu No. 5540 and Min Ping Yu No. 5202 disasters in July and August of the same year, in which 25 and 21 mainland Chinese died respectively during repatriation from Taiwan to mainland China.
After lifting the martial law in Taiwan in 1987, Taiwan saw a large influx of illegal immigrants from mainland China by sea, who were attracted by the economic prosperity of Taiwan at the time. Since the Taiwan government refused any contact with the mainland Chinese government at the time, Taiwan military sent the immigrants back to mainland China by seized mainland Chinese fishing boats, a policy known as "deporting people together with the boats" (Chinese: 併船遣返). Illegal immigrants were kept in sealed holds on the boats and the boats were guarded by naval vessels to prevent them from turning back. The inhuman repatriation method led to Min Ping Yu No. 5540 and Min Ping Yu No. 5202 disasters in July and August 1990, in which 25 people died from suffocation and 21 from drowning respectively, sparking off heavy criticisms of the Taiwan government from people across the Strait and calls for a change in repatriation method to prevent further disasters.
After the first tragedy reported in mainland China, mainland China's Red Cross society contacted its Taiwan's counterpart for help to understand the incident. Taiwan's Red Cross society suggested that the repatriated persons would be handed over at the imaginary median line of Taiwan Strait and a meeting could be held at a third place to work out concrete problems, to which the mainland China's counterpart agreed in principle. Soon afterwards, the second tragedy broke out, adding more urgency to solve the repatriation problem. Upon suggestion by ROC Premier Hau Pei-tsun, Taiwan's Red Cross society proposed to hold talks in Kinmen, Fujian Province, which, being close to mainland China, was still placed under martial law by Taiwan government, and mainland China's Red Cross society agreed.
Representatives of the Red Cross organizations from both Taiwan and Mainland China held talks on 11–12 September 1990. The talk ended up with an agreement reached on concerning both sides to participate and witness the implementation of cross-strait repatriation procedures via sea routes by their respective government agencies responsible for the related matters. The agreement was signed on 12 September 1990.
After two days of work meeting, representatives of Red Cross organizations across the Strait reached the following agreement on the matter of how they would witness the repatriation operations on sea conducted by their competent authorities:
- Principle of repatriation
- The repatriation operations should be ensured to meet the principles of humanity, safety and convenience.
- Persons to be repatriated
- Residents who enter the area of the other side in violation of relevant regulations (excluding those who have to enter temporarily due to force majeure such as emergency sheltering from the wind in fishing operations).
- Crime suspects or criminals.
- The two sides agree on the route between Mawei and Matsu, or, based on the distribution of origins of the repatriated persons, the climate and the sea state, they may agree on the route between Xiamen and Kinmen.
- One side should inform the other side of relevant information of the persons to be repatriated, and the other side should check and reply within 20 days, and carry out the repatriation handover at the agreed time and place. If one side has any questions on the subjects being checked, it should inform the other side for review.
- The two sides of repatriation operation both use Red Cross special purpose vessels, guided by civil vessels at agreed place. The repatriation and guidance vessels should all hoist the red cross on white background flags. No other flags nor signs are used.
- During the repatriation handover, two representatives whom the two sides have agreed upon in advance should sign the certificate of witness to handover.
- After signing the agreement, the two sides should solve related technical issues as quickly as possible so as to put it into practice in the shortest time. Should there be any unsettled matters, the two sides should hold other discussions on them.
As both governments across the Strait claimed to be the sole legitimate government of the entire China, the wording of the agreement was tailored to avoid acknowledging the government of either side. For example, the names of Red Cross organizations were not written out and the expressions "illegally crossing the border" (Chinese: 非法越境) and "territories under jurisdictions of the two sides" (Chinese: 雙方所轄地區) were rejected. It was signed by Chen Changwen and Han Changlin, presidents of Red Cross organizations from Taiwan and mainland China respectively, without stating their representing organizations and without official chops, and they each wrote the date under their signatures in Chinese numbers only, with the year as "79" and "90" in Chinese, leaving out "Minguo" (Chinese: 民國) and "Common Era" (Chinese: 公元) for the calendar systems officially used in Taiwan and mainland China respectively. The signatures switched sides on the two copies of the agreement.