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Kinmen (Quemoy) Islands & Matsu Islands Beijing Path to Taiwan

West of Taiwan and 187 kilometers (116 miles) distant, it is very close to China and easy prey. In 1949 Mao Zedong three times launched an amphibious assault on Kinmen, and it failed (1949 & 1950). Kinmen was part of artillery duels with China in what is known as the Second Taiwan Straits Crisis. The shooting lasted three months and almost triggered a nuclear war against China. (At the time, China did not have nuclear weapons.) The first two so-called Taiwan Strait crises (were in 1954-55 and 1958).

Today under Taiwan sovereignty and called Kinmen County, the Kinmen Islands are located just off the coast of China’s Greater Amoy barrier island. You can see the Chinese city of Xiamen from Kinmen, which is slightly more than a mile away.

Since the Ming Dynasty, it has been called Jinmen, meaning a “strong gate as if made of gold,” for the place was like a gate controlling the sea area. The people share the same traditional festivals as the mainlanders, especially Zhangzhou and Quanzhou.

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The 12 Kinmen islands are located off the southeastern coast of Fujian Province, a key position in the Taiwan Strait that blocks the mouth of the Xiamen (Amoy) Bay and protects Taiwan and Penghu Islands. Kinmen is an archipelago consisting of 15 islets, including, besides Kinmen itself, Liehyu (or Little Kinmen), Tatan, and Ertan. Three of the islets are occupied by mainland China; the remainder, under the control of the ROC, has a total land area of 150.46 square kilometers.

Situated in the sea about two kilometers off the coast of Fujian province, Kinmen is separated from Taiwan by approximately 280 kilometers of the Taiwan Straits. The Quemoy Islands are 82 nautical miles west of the Penghu Islands and 150 nautical miles from Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. The shortest distance from the main island, Kinmen, to communist-held territory is only 2,310 meters.

Since 2018, China has provided Kinmen with fresh drinking water through an undersea pipeline. Talks are underway for Kinmen to import two more crucial resources: electricity and natural gas. In recent years, Kinmen officials have mulled the once unthinkable: building a bridge to the mainland or turning Kinmen into a free-trade zone that attracts Chinese investment and accepts Chinese currency. Both proposals stalled, but they raised intense debates and suspicion in Taiwan about Kinmen’s loyalties and political status, which have never been settled. 

Taipei pulled most of the 100,000-strong military garrison from Kinmen following years of campaigning by democracy activists.  

Matsu Island, Chinese (Wade-Giles) Ma-tsu Tao or (Pinyin) Mazu Dao, also called Nankan, is a small island under the jurisdiction of Taiwan in the East China Sea, lying off the Min River estuary of mainland China and about 130 miles (210 km) northwest of Chi-lung (Keelung), Taiwan. Matsu is the main island of a group of 19, the Matsu Islands, which constitute Lien-kiang (Lienchiang) hsien (county). 

 The Matsu Islands have been cut off from the outside world after two submarine internet cables were severed by Chinese ships last month. 

To connect to the outside world, Matsu’s 14,000 residents rely on two submarine internet cables leading to Taiwan’s main island. The National Communications Commission, citing the island’s telecom service, blamed two Chinese ships for cutting the cables. It said a Chinese fishing vessel was suspected of severing the first cable some 50 kilometers (31 miles) out at sea. Six days later, on Feb. 8, a Chinese cargo ship cut the second, NCC said.

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As the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has shown, Russia has made taking out internet infrastructure one of the critical parts of its strategy. These cables were cut twenty-seven times in the past five years. The internet outage has highlighted a vital security vulnerability – that Taiwan can’t safeguard its communications in the event of a war with China.

American: Washington’s feeble Biden administration is incapable of dealing with China; its disastrous Middle East policies highlight this. Washington has surrendered the Middle East to China, Russia, and Iran.  

 Free Ebook The 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis A Documented History

See Also

 China’s War Against Taiwan Has Already Started How Beijing tries to make a democracy submit without putting up a fight By Anne Applebaum December 14, 2022

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