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Second Taiwan Strait Crisis
Taiwan Strait.png
Taiwan Strait
Date 1958
Location Strait of Taiwan
Result Ceasefire, status quo ante bellum
 Republic of China
United States United States Navy
 People's Republic of China

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) governments in which the PRC shelled the islands of Matsu and Quemoy in the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to seize them from the Republic of China.



The crisis started with the 823 Artillery Bombardment (translated from Traditional Chinese: 八二三炮戰; Simplified Chinese: 八二三炮战; Pinyin: Bāèrsān Pàozhàn) at 5:30pm on August 23, 1958, when People's Liberation Army forces began an intense artillery shelling of the Quemoy. ROC forces in Quemoy dug in and returned fire. In the subsequent bombardments, roughly 400 ROC troops and around 50 troops on the PRC side were killed.[citation needed]

This was a continuation of the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, which had started immediately after the Korean War. Chiang Kai-shek had begun to build on the two islands of Matsu and Quemoy. In 1954, PRC began firing artillery at both the islands of Quemoy and Matsu focusing most of the attack on Quemoy.

The United States Eisenhower Administration responded to ROC's request for aid according to its obligations in the 1954 US-ROC defense treaty by reinforcing US naval units and ordering US naval vessels to help the Kuomintang Nationalist government protect Quemoy's supply lines. Under a secret effort known as Operation Black Magic, the US Navy modified 100 ROC airforce F-86 Sabres with its newly introduced AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile to provide an edge against the PRC MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters, which had an altitude advantage over the Sabre. Recent research from the National Archives also indicates that the Air Force was prepared for a nuclear strike against the PRC, but to their surprise, was ordered by President Eisenhower to only use conventional weapons.[1]

The Soviet Union dispatched its foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, to Beijing to discuss China's actions.

This situation in 1958 continued for 44 days and took approximately 1,000 lives.[citation needed] On 22 September 1958, the Sidewinder was used for the first time when Sabres and MiGs clashed with several MiGs being downed by the F-86s. An even larger engagement occurred 2 days later with many more MiGs being lost.

Faced with a stalemate, the PRC and the ROC called a ceasefire on October 6. Beijing issued a “Message to the Compatriots in Taiwan” in the name of Defense Minister Peng Dehuai; however, the message was actually drafted by Mao Zedong.[citation needed] The message called for a peaceful solution to the Taiwan issue and called for all Chinese to unite against the "American plot to divide China".[citation needed]


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 ties between the US and PRC in 1979.

The question of "Matsu and Quemoy" became an issue in the 1960 American Presidential election when Richard Nixon accused John F. Kennedy of being unwilling to commit to using nuclear weapons if the People's Republic of China invaded the Nationalist outposts.

The PRC fired around 450,000 shells at the Quemoy islands in the conflict. The shells have become a natural resource of steel for the local economy. Since the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, Quemoy has become famous for its production of cleavers made from PRC bomb shells. A blacksmith in Quemoy generally produces 60 cleavers from one bomb shell and tourists often purchase Kinmen knives as souvenirs together with other local products.

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 0471986771
  • Bush, R. (2006). Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 0815712901
  • Carpenter, T. (2006). America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403968411
  • Cole, B. (2006). Taiwan's Security: History and Prospects. Routledge. ISBN 0415365813
  • Copper, J. (2006). Playing with Fire: The Looming War with China over Taiwan. Praeger Security International General Interest. ISBN 0275988880
  • 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 0815731469
  • Shirk, S. (2007). China: Fragile Superpower: How China's Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195306090
  • Tsang, S. (2006). If China Attacks Taiwan: Military Strategy, Politics and Economics. Routledge. ISBN 0415407850
  • Tucker, N.B. (2005). Dangerous Strait: the U.S.-Taiwan-China Crisis. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231135645


External links



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