Are Taiwan's Islands of Quemoy and Matsu China's Next Target? By Joy Votrobek
Friday, December 4, 2020
By Joy Votrobek, Sr. Research Analyst, ASCF
The Communist People's Republic of China (PRC) has been determined to reunify Taiwan with mainland China since 1949 when Mao Tse-tung successfully unified China under Communist rule. The defeated Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomingtang (KMT) Nationalists retreated to present-day Taiwan and the islands Quemoy and Matsu. Both the PRC and the Nationalists considered themselves the true rulers of a "One China" policy. In 1954, the KMT insisted on the liberation of mainland China which prompted the PRC's military to begin an artillery assault on Taiwan's islands of Quemoy and Matsu. The two islands are within eight miles of mainland China. In December of 1954, Taiwan signed a Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S. The Treaty pledged the U.S. to defend Taiwan as well as other territories, determined by mutual agreement of both parties. In 1955, President Eisenhower made it clear that the U.S. was ready to use nuclear weapons to stop an assault by the PRC. Shortly after Eisenhower's statement, the PRC negotiated with Taiwan and the assault on Quemoy and Matsu ceased.
In 1979, Congress passed into law the Taiwan Relations Act in response to President Jimmy Carter's severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of the Communist PRC. The Act maintains Carter's recognition of diplomatic relations with the PRC with the understanding the PRC is to keep a peaceful future with Taiwan. The Act allows the U.S. to use force against the PRC's military if Taiwan's security is in jeopardy. But the wording is ambiguous enough that we should not assume the U.S. would protect all the Taiwanese islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Action against the PRC is left to the President and Congress to determine appropriate action according to the 1979 Act. New legislation was introduced to Congress by Sena