Taiwan's Kinmen Islands, Only a Few Miles From Mainland China

The island of Taiwan, governed by the Republic of China (ROC), lies about 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan also administers a number of smaller islands known as the Kinmen archipelago, or Kinmen County. Great Kinmen Island and its neighbor islets are on the other side of the strait, in a harbor just east of the port city of Xiamen, practically surrounded by the People’s Republic of China (PRC)—in some places barely more than a mile apart. Back in the 1950s, the islands were heavily shelled during the two Taiwan Strait Crises—military clashes between the PRC and ROC. The small islands were heavily fortified against bombardment and invasion, with barricades placed on beaches, artillery emplaced on hillsides, massive tunnels dug to shelter troops, and concrete walls of loudspeakers built to blast propaganda across the water. Reuters reports that today, the island of fewer than 129,000 residents is “eyeing closer commercial ties with China,” wanting to pipe water from Xiamen, and “has plans to build a bridge and set up a glittering free trade zone with the city,” as China continues to seek unification with Taiwan under the “one country, two systems” model practiced in Hong Kong and Macau.
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