First Taiwan Strait Crisis

The First Taiwan Strait Crisis (also the Formosa Crisis, the 1954–1955 Taiwan Strait Crisis, the Offshore Islands Crisis, and the 1955 Taiwan Strait Crisis) was a brief armed conflict between the Communist People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Nationalist Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan. The Taiwan strait crisis began when the PRC seized the Yijiangshan Islands and expelled the ROC to abandon the Tachen Islands, which were evacuated by the navies of the ROC and the US. Although physical control of the Tachen Islands changed hands during the crisis, American reportage focused exclusively on the Kinmen (Quemoy) and Matsu islands, sites of artillery duels between the Communists and the KMT Nationalists.

In 1949, after military defeat in the Chinese Civil War (1927–49), Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang (KMT) government and 1.3 million anti-communist Chinese supporters fled China, and relocated the nationalist KMT government to the island of Taiwan. While Kuomintang Islamic insurgency in western and south-western China continued, the territory under jurisdiction of the KMT's Republic of China was reduced to Taiwan, Hainan the Pescadores Islands (Penghu), and several island groups along the south-east coast of China. In April 1950, the PRC captured Hainan, and the Nationalists then evacuated to Taiwan in May 1950, before the occurrence of the First Taiwan Strait Crisis.

First Taiwan Strait Crisis
Taiwan Strait

Taiwan Strait
Date3 September 1954 – 1 May 1955
(7 months and 4 weeks)
Result People's Republic of China seized the Yijiangshan and Dachen Islands. United States and Republic of China navies evacuate military and civilians from Dachen Islands. Formosa Resolution of 1955 and Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty between ROC and United States
Taiwan Republic of China
United States United States
China People's Republic of China
Commanders and leaders
Taiwan Liu Yuzhang
United States Dwight D. Eisenhower
China Mao Zedong
China Peng Dehuai
Casualties and losses

567 ROC troops killed[1]

2 U.S. troops killed[2]
393 PRC troops killed[3]


While the United States recognized Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist (Kuomintang) government as the sole legitimate government for all of China, U.S. President Harry S. Truman announced on 5 January 1950 that the United States would not engage in any intervention in the Taiwan Strait disputes, and that he would not intervene in the event of an attack by the PRC.[4][5] However, after the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, Truman declared that the "neutralization of the Straits of Formosa" was in the best interest of the United States, and he sent the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to prevent any conflict between the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China, effectively putting Taiwan under American protection. The move was also intended to deter ROC attacks against the Chinese Mainland.

On 27 June 1950, President Truman issued the following statement:[6]

The attack upon Korea makes it plain beyond all doubt that communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war. It has defied the orders of the Security Council of the United Nations issued to preserve international peace and security. In these circumstances the occupation of Formosa by Communist forces would be a direct threat to the security of the Pacific area and to United States forces performing their lawful and necessary functions in that area. Accordingly, I have ordered the 7th Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa. As a corollary of this action, I am calling upon the Chinese Government on Formosa to cease all air and sea operations against the mainland. The 7th Fleet will see that this is done. The determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan, or consideration by the United Nations.

President Truman later ordered John Foster Dulles,[a] the Foreign Policy Advisor to U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, to carry out his decision on "neutralizing" Taiwan in drafting the Treaty of San Francisco of 1951 (the peace treaty with Japan), which excluded the participation of both the ROC and the PRC. Each self-claimed legitimate government of China was excluded from the treaty because the question of China's legitimate government remained unresolved after World War II and the Chinese Civil War, and this was considered an intractable sticking point in otherwise comprehensive and multilaterally beneficial peace negotiations.

Japan ceded control of Taiwan in the treaty but did not specify a recipient for Taiwan's sovereignty. This situation has been used by supporters of Taiwan independence to argue for their position that the sovereignty status of Taiwan was undetermined, despite the Japanese having already agreed to return Taiwan to Republic of China through their Instrument of Surrender signed at end of the War.[7] According to the author George H. Kerr, a supporter of Taiwanese independence, in his book Formosa Betrayed, the political status of Taiwan was under the trust of the Allied Powers (against Japan). It would be the responsibility of the United Nations if this could not be resolved in near future as designed in the peace treaty.

The Nationalist China Government (now based in Taiwan) maintained as its goal the recovery of control of mainland China, and this required a resumption of the military confrontation with the Red Chinese. Truman and his advisors regarded that goal as unrealizable, but regret over losing China to international communism was quite prominent in public opinion at the time, and the Truman Administration was criticized by anticommunists for preventing any attempt by Chiang Kai-shek's forces to liberate mainland China.

Truman, a member of the Democratic Party, did not run for reelection in the presidential election of 1952, even though he was eligible to do so. This election was won by the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, a General from World War II.

On 2 February 1953, the new President lifted the Seventh Fleet's blockade in order to fulfill demands by anticommunists to "unleash Chiang Kai-shek" on mainland China.

The conflict

In August 1954, the Nationalists placed 58,000 troops on Kinmen and 15,000 troops on Matsu. The ROC began building defensive structures and the PRC began shelling ROC installations on Kinmen. Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People's Republic of China responded with a declaration on 11 August 1954, that Taiwan must be "liberated." He dispatched the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to the area, and it began shelling both Kinmen and the Matsu Islands.

Despite warnings from the U.S. against any attacks on the Republic of China; five days before the signing of the Manila pact, the PLA unleashed a heavy artillery bombardment of Kinmen on September 3, and intensified its actions in November by bombing the Tachen Islands. This renewed Cold War fears of Communist expansion in Asia at a time when the PRC was not recognized by the United States Department of State. Chiang Kai-shek's government was supported by the United States because the ROC was part of the United States policy of containment of communism which stretched from a devastated South Korea to an increasingly divided Southeast Asia.

On 12 September, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended the use of nuclear weapons against mainland China. President Eisenhower, however, resisted pressure to use nuclear weapons or involve American troops in the conflict. However, on 2 December 1954, the United States and the ROC agreed to the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, which did not apply to islands along the Chinese mainland. This treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate on 9 February 1955.

The PLA seized the Yijiangshan Islands on 18 January 1955. Fighting continued in nearby islands off the coast of Zhejiang, as well as around Kinmen and the Matsu Islands in Fujian. On 29 January 1955, the Formosa Resolution was approved by both houses of the U.S. Congress authorizing Eisenhower to use U.S. forces to defend the ROC and its possessions in the Taiwan Strait against armed attack.

In February, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill warned the U.S. against using nuclear weapons, but in March, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stated publicly that the U.S. was seriously considering a nuclear strike. In response, the NATO foreign ministers warned at a meeting of the alliance against such action. In late March, U.S. Admiral Robert B. Carney said that Eisenhower is planning "to destroy Red China's military potential."

Aftermath: China and nuclear weapons

Some scholars hypothesized the PRC backed down in the face of American nuclear brinksmanship and in light of the lack of willingness by the Soviet Union to threaten nuclear retaliation for an attack on the PRC. Others see the case as an example of effective application of extended deterrence by the United States. In any case, the Red Chinese government stated on 23 April 1955 that it was willing to negotiate. On 1 May the PLA temporarily ceased shelling Kinmen and Matsu. The fundamental issues of the conflict remained unresolved, however, and both sides subsequently built up their military forces on their respective sides of the Taiwan Strait leading to a new crisis three years later.

There are strong indications that Mao used the crisis in order to provoke the United States into making nuclear threats, which would give him home support to pour money into research and production of Chinese nuclear weapons and missile technology. After American nuclear threats during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, the Politburo gave the green light in 1955 to pursue nuclear weapon and missile research. The first of China's nuclear weapons tests took place in 1964 and its first successful hydrogen bomb test occurred in 1967.

See also

Further reading

  • Bush, R. & O'Hanlon, M. (2007). A War Like No Other: The Truth About China's Challenge to America. Wiley. ISBN 0-471-98677-1
  • Bush, R. (2006). Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 0-8157-1290-1
  • Carpenter, T. (2006). America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-6841-1
  • Cole, B. (2006). Taiwan's Security: History and Prospects. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-36581-3
  • Copper, J. (2006). Playing with Fire: The Looming War with China over Taiwan. Praeger Security International General Interest. ISBN 0-275-98888-0
  • Federation of American Scientists et al. (2006). Chinese Nuclear Forces and U.S. Nuclear War Planning
  • Gill, B. (2007). Rising Star: China's New Security Diplomacy. Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 0-8157-3146-9
  • Shirk, S. (2007). China: Fragile Superpower: How China's Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-530609-0
  • Tsang, S. (2006). If China Attacks Taiwan: Military Strategy, Politics and Economics. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-40785-0
  • Tucker, N.B. (2005). Dangerous Strait: the U.S.-Taiwan-China Crisis. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-13564-5
  • Watry, David M. Diplomacy at the Brink: Eisenhower, Churchill, and Eden in the Cold War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2014.


  1. ^ Dolles would later serve as Secretary of State himself under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.


  1. ^ Battle of Yijiangshan Islands
  2. ^ . Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  3. ^ Battle of Yijiangshan Islands
  4. ^ "Harry S Truman, "Statement on Formosa," January 5, 1950". University of Southern California. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  5. ^ "First and Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, Quemoy and Matsu Islands of Taiwan". The Cold War Museum. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  6. ^ Truman, Harry (27 June 1950). "Statement issued by President Truman". Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  7. ^ Taiwan Independence Movement Archived December 22, 2004, at the Wayback Machine

External links

1954 in Taiwan

Events from the year 1954 in Taiwan, Republic of China. This year is numbered Minguo 43 according to the official Republic of China calendar.

1955 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference

The 1955 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was the seventh Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was held in the United Kingdom in January 1955 and was hosted by that country's Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.

A sense of international crisis loomed over the conference which occurred during which the First Taiwan Strait Crisis as were other international developments such as the sudden resignation of Soviet Premier Georgy Malenkov and the fall of French prime minister Pierre Mendès France, all of which were discussed. Atomic energy for peaceful purposes, disarmament, and trade and economic development in the Sterling area, and regional defence were also discussed, in particular the defence of South East Asia, the formation of SEATO and in particular the ongoing insurgency in Malaya.Pakistan informed the meeting that it was to become a republic and the meeting affirmed that Pakistan would be welcome to remain in the Commonwealth.

1955 in China

Events in the year 1955 in China. The country had an estimated population of 605 million people.

1955 in Taiwan

Events from the year 1955 in Taiwan, Republic of China. This year is numbered Minguo 44 according to the official Republic of China calendar.

Battle of Dachen Archipelago

The Battle of Dachen Archipelago (simplified Chinese: 大陈等岛之战; traditional Chinese: 大陳等島之戰; pinyin: Dàchén Děng Dǎo Zhī Zhàn) was a struggle between the Nationalists and the Communists for the control of several archipelagos just off the coast of Zhejiang, China, during the Chinese Civil War in the post-World War II era, and it was part of the First Taiwan Strait Crisis. The Communists targeted and eventually took the Dachen Archipelago, and the other two smaller archipelagos from Nationalists: the Southern Muntjac Archipelago (simplified Chinese: 南麂山列岛; traditional Chinese: 南麂山列島; pinyin: Nán Jǐshān Liè Dǎo) and the Southern Deer Mountain Archipelago (simplified Chinese: 南鹿山列岛; traditional Chinese: 南鹿山列島; pinyin: Nán Lùshān Liè Dǎo).

Battle of Yijiangshan Islands

The Battle of Yijiangshan Islands (simplified Chinese: 一江山岛战役; traditional Chinese: 一江山島戰役) was a conflict between forces of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) of the Republic of China and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of the People's Republic of China, over one of the last strongholds of Nationalist (ROC) forces near mainland China on the Yijiangshan Islands. The conflict occurred from January 18 to 20 January 1955, during the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, and resulted in a PLA victory and the complete destruction of the ROC garrison.

Cross-Strait Peace Forum

The Cross-Strait Peace Forum (Chinese: 兩岸和平論壇; pinyin: Liǎng'àn Hépíng Lùntán) is a forum between Mainland China and Taiwan to discuss the peaceful development of the cross-strait relations. The forum was firstly held on October 2013 and it acts as an important platform for non-political dialogue between the two sides.

Dachen Islands

The Dachen Islands, Tachen Islands or Tachens (simplified Chinese: 大陈群岛; traditional Chinese: 大陳群島; pinyin: Dàchén Qúndǎo) are a group of islands off the coast of Taizhou, Zhejiang, China, in the East China Sea. They are administered by Jiaojiang District of Taizhou.

Formosa Resolution of 1955

The Formosa Resolution was a bill enacted by the U.S. Congress on January 29, 1955 that established an American commitment to defend Formosa (now called Taiwan). As a matter of American foreign policy, President Dwight D. Eisenhower promised to protect "territories in the West Pacific under the jurisdiction of the Republic of China" (i.e. Taiwan and Penghu) against invasion by the People's Republic of China (PRC). The legislation provided the President with the power to intervene if the island was attacked.

The legislation was prompted, in part, by attacks on the islands of Kinmen and Matsu in the Taiwan Strait by the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 1954. Both islands had been held by the Kuomintang government of Republic of China under Chiang Kai-shek, which had been handed the island of Taiwan in 1945.

Following the enactment of the Formosa Resolution, the PRC and the US successfully negotiated an agreement to stop the bombing of the islands in the Taiwan Strait. This peaceful result ended the First Taiwan Strait Crisis.

Both the House and Senate approved this resolution: 85 to 3 in the Senate and 409 to 3 in the House.

This resolution expires "when the President shall determine that the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured by international conditions created by action of the United Nations or otherwise, and shall so report to the Congress."

List of battles in Kinmen

The Prince of Lu was part of the Southern Ming Dynasty, resisting the invading Manchu Qing dynasty forces. In 1651 he fled to Kinmen, in 1663 Kinmen was taken by the invaders.The mainland Chinese city of Xiamen is within shelling distance of the small islands of Kinmen. As one of the front line islands between the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China, ROC-governed Kinmen has seen many battles and tensions between the two throughout the Cold War. It was generally understood by both the ROC and the PRC that if Kinmen fell to the PRC, Taiwan itself would follow.

The phrase "Quemoy (Kinmen) and Matsu" became part of U.S. politics in the 1960 Presidential election. During the debates, both candidates, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy pledged to use U.S. force if necessary to protect the Republic of China from invasion from the mainland, the People's Republic of China, which the U.S. did not recognize as a legitimate government at the time. Vice-President Nixon charged that Senator Kennedy would not use U.S. force to protect Taiwan's forward positions, Kinmen and Matsu.

List of battles over Kinmen:

Battle of Guningtou (1949)

First Taiwan Strait Crisis (1954-1955)

Second Taiwan Strait Crisis (1958)After the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis ended in stalemate, both sides settled upon a routine of bombarding each other every other day with shells containing propaganda leaflets. ROC troops on the island continued constructing tunnels, bunkers, and other underground facilities. Commandos (often known as 水鬼, or "water ghosts" by ROC troops) were sent by both sides to conduct sabotage or attack lone sentries. The bombardment finally ended in 1979 with the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the United States and the PRC.

List of conflicts related to the Cold War

While the Cold War itself never escalated into direct confrontation, there were a number of conflicts related to the Cold War around the globe, spanning the entirety of the period usually prescribed to it (March 12, 1947 to December 26, 1991, a total of 44 years, 9 months, and 2 weeks).

List of wars involving Taiwan

This is a list of wars involving Taiwan (Republic of China).

List of wars involving the People's Republic of China

This is a list of wars involving the People's Republic of China.

Nie Fengzhi

Nie Fengzhi (Chinese: 聂凤智, 1913 or 1914–1992) was a lieutenant general of the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China.

Second Taiwan Strait Crisis

The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was a conflict that took place between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC). In this conflict, the PRC shelled the islands of Kinmen and the Matsu Islands along the east coast of mainland China (in the Taiwan Strait) to "liberate" Taiwan from the Chinese Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang (KMT); and to probe the extent of the United States defense of Taiwan's territory.

Seven Seas Residence

Seven Seas Residence (Chinese: 七海寓所; pinyin: Qīhǎi YùsuǒRepublic of China Navy Command Headquarters), also called Chihai, located in Taipei, Taiwan on Beian Street within the grounds of the ROC naval headquarters, was the official residence of Republic of China President Chiang Ching-kuo.

Taiwan Strait Crises

The Taiwan Strait Crises were a set of conflicts involving Republic of China and the People's Republic of China.

The First Taiwan Strait Crisis (1954–1955)

The Second Taiwan Strait Crisis (1958)

The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis (1995–1996)

Taiwan missile crisis

The Taiwan missile crisis may refer to:

First Taiwan Strait Crisis, also known as the 1955 Taiwan Strait Crisis

Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, also known as the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis

Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, also known as the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis

Yijiangshan Islands

The Yijiangshan Islands (Chinese: 一江山岛) are two small islands eight miles from the Dachen Islands, located off the coast of Taizhou, Zhejiang in the East China Sea.

During the First Taiwan Strait crisis the islands were captured in January 1955 by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) from Republic of China (ROC) Nationalist forces in the Battle of Yijiangshan even as the U.S. Seventh Fleet was patrolling nearby.

Frozen conflicts
Foreign policy
See also

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