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The First Taiwan Strait Crisis 1955

Mar 20, 2017 © Ulrich Theobald

Freed from the burden of the Korean War, the Chinese leadership decided to launch, on August 11, 1954, a campaign for the liberation of Taiwan, the island where the KMT and its supporters had fled to in 1949. The campaign was a response to the aggression of the R.O.C. on Taiwan, which in early August 1954 sent a huge number of troops were sent to Jinmen 金門島 (Kinmen or Quemoy, before the coast at Xiamen 厦门) and Mazu 馬祖列島 (Matsu, 20 km before the coast of Fuzhou), which were located just on the coast of Fujian, and initial shelling of the mainland from Kinmen.

Map 1. Geographical and political situation during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis 1955
Click to enlarge.

The slogan of the CPC campaign was "We must by all means liberate Taiwan" (Yiding yao jiefang Taiwan 一定要解放台湾). The military protection the U.S. offered Taiwan did not deter the PLA, and on January 18, 1955, troops occupied within shortest time the Island of Yijiangshan 一江山岛 (Nan Yishan 南一山岛) in the bay of Lingjiang River 灵江 at Taizhou 台州, Zhejiang. On February 13, naval troops took the islands of the Dachen Archipelago 大陈群岛, 10 km more to the south. Both were until then still in the possession of KMT forces (albeit the two places were manned by very small forces and outnumbered by the PLA many times). Alerted by the easygoing mode China had conquered these places, the U.S. promised Taiwan in the Formosa Resolution (Taiwan jueyi'an 台灣決議案) of January 29, 1955, to give support for securing Kinmen (where shelling from the mainland continued) and Matsu, and of course, the Penghu Archipelago 澎湖群島 and Taiwan itself.

Figure 1. Overgrown observation post on Gulangyu Island 鼓浪屿, securing the port entrance to Xiamen, opposite Kinmen
Source: Author, 1997.
Sources:
Gordon, Leonard H. D. (1985). "United States Opposition to Use of Force in the Taiwan Strait, 1954-1962", The Journal of American History, 72/3: 637-660.
Halperin. M.H. (1966). The 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis: A Documented History (Memorandum, rand.org.).