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.

Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
Part of the Cold War and Chinese Civil War
Taiwan Strait

Taiwan Strait
Date23 August 1958 – 22 September 1958
(4 weeks and 2 days)
Strait of Taiwan
Result Ceasefire, status quo ante bellum
Taiwan Republic of China
 United States
China People's Republic of China
Commanders and leaders
Taiwan Chiang Kai-shek
Taiwan Chiang Ching-kuo
Taiwan Hu Lien
Taiwan Ji Xingwen 
Taiwan Zhao Jiaxiang 
Taiwan Zhang Jie 
United States Dwight D. Eisenhower
China Mao Zedong
China Peng Dehuai
China Ye Fei
China Xu Xiangqian

Taiwan 92,000

United States Naval support
China 215,000
Casualties and losses
440 ROC troops killed and missing[1] 460 PRC troops killed and wounded


ROC Quemoy
Location of Quemoy County (pink) relative to Taiwan and the PRC

The conflict was a continuation of the Chinese Civil War and First Taiwan Strait Crisis. The ROC had begun to build military installations on the island of Kinmen and the nearby Matsu archipelago. The PLA began firing artillery at both Kinmen and some and the nearby Matsu islands.

The American Eisenhower Administration responded to the request for aid from the ROC according to its obligations in the ROC-United States mutual defense treaty that had been ratified in 1954. President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the reinforcement of the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet in the area, and he ordered American naval vessels to help the Nationalist Chinese government to protect the supply lines to the islands. In addition, the U.S. Air Force deployed F-100D Super Sabres, F-101C Voodoos, F-104A Starfighters, and B-57B Canberras to Taiwan to demonstrate support for the republic. The F-104s were disassembled and airlifted to Taiwan in C-124 Globemaster II transport aircraft, marking the first time such a method was used to move fighter aircraft over a long distance.[2]

USS Lexington (CVA-16) underway during 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis
The U.S. carrier USS Lexington (CVA-16) with a supply ship and USS Marshall (DD-676) off Taiwan during the crisis.

Also, under a secret effort called "Operation Black Magic", the U.S. Navy modified some of the F-86 Sabre fighters of the Nationalist Chinese Air Force with its newly developed early AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. These missiles gave the Nationalist Chinese pilots a decisive edge over the Chinese Communists' Soviet-made MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters in the skies over the Matsu Islands and the Taiwan Strait. The Nationalist Chinese pilots used the Sidewinder missiles to score numerous kills on PLAAF MiG aircraft.

The US Army's contribution reinforced the strategic air defense capability of the Republic of China. A provisional Nike missile battalion was organized at Fort Bliss, TX, and sent via USMTS USS General J. C. Breckinridge (AP-176) to Nationalist China. The 2nd Missile Battalion was augmented with detachments of signal, ordnance and engineers, totaling some 704 personnel.

Twelve long-range 203 mm (8-inch) M115 howitzer artillery pieces and numerous 155 mm howitzers were transferred from the U.S. Marine Corps to the Army of the Nationalist China. These were sent west to Kinmen Island to gain superiority in the artillery duel back and forth over the straits there. The impact of these powerful but conventional artillery pieces led some members of the PLA to believe that American artillerymen had begun to use nuclear weapons against them.

Soon, the Soviet Union dispatched its foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, to Beijing to discuss the actions of the PLA and the Communist Chinese Air Force (PLAAF), with advice of caution to the Communist Chinese.

On September 22, 1958, the Sidewinder missile was used for the first time in air-to-air combat as 32 Republic of China F-86s clashed with 100 PRC (PLAAF) MiGs in a series of aerial engagements. Numerous MiGs were shot down by Sidewinders, the first "kills" to be scored by air-to-air missiles in combat.[3]

Soon, the People's Republic of China was faced with a stalemate, as the PLA's artillerymen had run out of artillery shells. The Communist Chinese government announced a large decrease in bombardment levels on October 6, 1958.


Afterwards, both sides continued to bombard each other with shells containing propaganda leaflets on alternate days of the week. This strange informal arrangement continued until the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Communist People's Republic of China in 1979. The timed shelling created little damage and casualties; it was mainly aimed at military compounds and artillery pieces. It was also a way to expend expired ammunition and train new artillery crews for the PRC in what eventually became one-way shelling from Mainland China to Taiwanese-controlled territory.

The question of "Matsu and Quemoy (Kinmen)" became an issue in the 1960 U.S. presidential election when Richard Nixon accused John F. Kennedy of being unwilling to commit to using nuclear weapons if the Communist China invaded the Nationalist China outposts.

Bomb shells fired from Mainland China, Kinmen, Taiwan
Bombshells fired by the PRC

The spent shell casings and fragments have become a recyclable resource for steel for the local economy. Since the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, Kinmen has become famous for its production of meat cleavers made from bombshells.

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. ^ Maritime Taiwan: Historical Encounters with the East and the West by Shih-Shan Henry Tsai. Page 189. Published 2009
  2. ^ Davies, Peter E. (2014). F-104 Starfighter Units in Combat. Great Britain: Osprey Publishing. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-1-78096-313-6.
  3. ^ Sidewinder AIM-9. US Naval Academy 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2017.


External links

1958 in China

Events in the year 1958 in the People's Republic of China.

1958 in Taiwan

Events from the year 1958 in Taiwan, Republic of China. This year is numbered Minguo 47 according to the official Republic of China calendar.

836th Air Division

The 836th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command (TAC) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where it was inactivated on 1 May 1992. The division had been activated at Davis-Monthan in January 1981 to replace Tactical Training, Davis-Monthan. Its primary mission was training for Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II and BGM-109G Gryphon crews. The 602d Tactical Control Wing moved to Davis-Monthan, and the division's training mission expanded to include Forward Air Controllers flying several aircraft. The BGM-109 mission ended with the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. In 1989, division elements participated in Operation Just Cause. The division was inactivated with the implementation of the Objective Wing reorganization, which established a single wing on each Air Force Base.

The division was first activated in 1957 at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia as the command headquarters for the 405th Fighter-Bomber Wing and the 345th Bombardment Wing, along with base support organizations assigned to its 836th Air Base Group. Division bombers deployed overseas in response to the Lebanon Crisis of 1958 and the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. By 1961, the division's responsibilities had shifted with the inactivation of the 345th and 405th Wings, and it commanded the 4505th Air Refueling Wing and 4440th Aircraft Delivery Group, which had replaced them at Langley. With only a single wing remaining at Langley, the division was inactivated on 1 July 1961.

The division was again activated in 1962 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida when TAC took over that base from Strategic Air Command. The two tactical fighter wings at MacDill were initially equipped with obsolescent Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks, but soon became the first McDonnell F-4 Phantom II wings in the Air Force. Beginning in 1964, division units began deploying for combat in Southeast Asia, and eventually two entire wings moved to South Vietnam. Until the 836th inactivated in 1971, its remaining components acted primarily as training units for the Phantom II and, after 1968, for the Tropic Moon B-57G. During the Pueblo Crisis, the division deployed elements to reinforce Pacific Air Forces units in Korea.

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.

Cross-Strait war of propaganda

The cross-Strait war of propaganda (simplified Chinese: 台海心战; traditional Chinese: 台海心戰) refers to a period of time following the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis when the two Chinese governments, the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland, engaged in mutual propaganda actions aimed at turning military personnel against their own regimes and encouraging them to defect. Such activities didn’t stop until 1990. Both sides used megaphones and radio stations for broadcasting, and balloons and floating carriers for sending leaflets and other objects. Defectors came from both sides, bringing with them information and intelligence about their original regimes.

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.

Ji Xingwen

Ji Xingwen (Chinese: 吉星文; pinyin: Jí Xīngwén), or "Shaowu" (Chinese: 紹武; pinyin: Shàowǔ), was a general in the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China. He served in the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.

Kinmen knife

The Kinmen knife (Chinese: 金門菜刀; pinyin: Jīnmén Càidāo) is a knife exclusively made in Kinmen County in Fujian Province, Republic of China. The knives were once made from the remains of artillery shells fired by the U.S. and Allied forces in World War II, when the island was occupied by the Empire of Japan, and by mainland China between 1958 and 1978.

During the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of the People's Republic of China fired around 450,000 shells at the Kinmen islands in its conflict against the Republic of China which controls the islands. The shells have become a resource of steel for the local economy. Since the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, Kinmen has become famous for its production of cleavers made from PRC artillery shells. Many of the shells in the later stages of the war were propaganda shells, with the high-explosive removed and replaced with stuffed leaflets, thus impacting on the island intact, rather than exploding into many tiny fragments. A blacksmith in Kinmen generally produces 60 cleavers from one artillery shell and tourists often purchase Kinmen knives as souvenirs together with other local specialties.

During his visit to Kinmen on 23–24 May 2015, Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, received a Kinmen knife as a gift made from PLA shells. This was a gesture symbolizing the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have buried the hatchet left from Chinese Civil War and are working towards mutual peace.

Lin Hu (general)

Lin Hu (Chinese: 林虎; pinyin: Lín Hŭ; 26 December 1927 – 3 March 2018) was a Chinese aviator, fighter pilot and lieutenant general of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). Born to a Russian mother and a Chinese father, he was orphaned at a young age. Lin joined the Eighth Route Army to fight in the Second Sino-Japanese War before he turned 11. After the Second World War, he was trained as a fighter pilot and fought in the Korean War and the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis. He served as deputy commander of the PLA Air Force from 1985 to 1994 and attained the rank of lieutenant general in 1988.

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.

Shanghai-Taipei City Forum

The Shanghai-Taipei City Forum (Chinese: 上海-台北城市论坛) or Taipei-Shanghai City Forum (Chinese: 台北-上海城市论坛) is an annual forum between the government and civilians of Shanghai and Taipei.

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

Timeline of military aviation

1794 - French Aerostatic Corps use a tethered balloon at the Battle of Fleurus as a vantage point.

1849 - In 1849, Austrian forces besieging Venice launched some 200 incendiary balloons, each carrying a 24- to 30-pound bomb that was to be dropped from the balloon with a time fuse over the besieged city. The balloons were launched from land and from the Austrian navy ship SMS Vulcano that acted as a balloon carrier.

1861 - The Union Army Balloon Corps is established during the American Civil War.

1878 - The British Army Balloon Equipment Store is established at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich by the Royal Engineers.

1885 - Balloons are deployed by the British Army to Bechuanaland and Suakin.

1888 - The British Army School of Ballooning is established.

1907 - The first military air organization, the Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, is formed 1 August

1907 - British Colonel John Capper flies the military airship Nulli Secundus from Farnborough to Crystal Palace in London.

1909 - Heavier-than-air military aviation is born with the US Army's purchase of Signal Corps Aeroplane No. 1.

1910 - The first experimental take-off of a heavier-than-air craft from the deck of a US Navy vessel, the cruiser USS Birmingham

1910 - First bombing attack against a surface ship: Didier Masson and Captain Joaquín Bauche Alcalde, flying for Mexican Revolutionist Venustiano Carranza, dropped dynamite bombs on Federalist gunboats at Guaymas, Mexico, on May 10, 1913.

1910 - The Aviation Militaire of the French Army is formed 22 October.

1911 - The Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers is formed, the first British heavier-than-air unit.

1911 - Heavier-than-air aircraft are used in war for the first time during the Italo-Turkish War.

1912 - The Royal Flying Corps is formed. A few months later the Dominion of Australia also formed the Australian Flying Corps.

1914 - The Royal Naval Air Service is formed by splitting airship squadrons away from the Royal Flying Corps.

1914 - In August, Russian Staff-Captain Pyotr Nesterov becomes the first pilot to ram his plane into an enemy spotter aircraft.

1914 - September 6th, the first aircraft raid was launched by the Japanese seaplane carrier Wakamiya on Qingdao.

1914 - In October, a plane is shot down by another aircraft with a handgun over Rheims, France.

1914 - The first conventional air-to-air kill occurs on 5 October when a gunner on a French Voisin machine-guns a German Aviatik reconnaissance aircraft in World War I.

1918 - The Royal Air Force, the world's first independent air force is formed.

1918 - HMS Argus (I49) became "the world's first carrier capable of launching and landing naval aircraft".

1940 - The Battle of Britain, the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces, was fought.

1958 - The first ever air-to-air kill with a missile, when a Chinese Nationalist North American F-86 Sabre kills a Chinese PLAAF Mikoyan-Guryevich MiG-15 during the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis

1980 - The only confirmed air-to-air helicopter battles occur during the Iran–Iraq War.

Frozen conflicts
Foreign policy
See also

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