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Second Taiwan Strait Crisis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

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

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.


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

The U.S. carrier USS Lexington (CVA-16) with a supply ship and USS Marshall (DD-676) off Taiwan during the 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[quantify] 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.[citation needed]

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[citation needed] PRC (PLAAF) MiGs in a series of aerial engagements. Numerous[quantify] 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.[citation needed] 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.

Bombshells fired by the PRC
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

This page was last edited on 20 May 2019, at 12:21
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