At the end of the Chinese Civil War, the nationalist Kuomintang government retreated to the islands, settling mainly in Taiwan and Hainan. This withdrawal was accompanied by a large exodus as more than two million people, accompanied by the military leadership of the Kuomintang, fled to these strikingly populated islands.
The Kuomintang government declared itself the legitimate representative of the Chinese people and took Taipei, Taiwan, as its capital, coinciding with Mao Zedong’s declaration of the People’s Republic of China on mainland China.
A new situation after the Korean War
As a result, Washington declared the Kuomintang government, led by Chiang Kai‐shek, as the legitimate representative of the Chinese people. In the early 1950s, U.S. President Harry Truman asserted that his country would not intervene in any future military conflict between the People’s Republic of China, in mainland China, and the self-proclaimed Republic of China in Taiwan and other islands under nationalist control.
With the outbreak of the Korean War, in which the People’s Republic of China intervened by sending hundreds of thousands of volunteers, the US administration changed direction, pledging to help the people of Taiwan in the event of a possible communist attack. With that in mind, the president ordered the Seventh Fleet to stand by Taiwan in any potential conflict in the region.
Taiwan Strait dispute
In April 1950, the People’s Republic of China took control of Hainan Island. As a result, the People’s Liberation Army turned its sights on the islands of Matsu and Quemoy.
By September 1954, nationalists had sent tens of thousands of troops toward these islands to secure them from a possible invasion that might be led by PLA forces. In November 1954, things took a dangerous turn.
Without warning, PLA artillery shelled the Dachen archipelago at the Taiwan Strait. Concurrently, Chinese torpedo bombers sank a Taiwanese warship.
The military skirmishes have also raised fears by world powers that combat operations could expand and China’s civil war could return as U.S.-Soviet relations sour. On the other hand, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower received a proposal, from a number of military experts, calling for the need to use nuclear weapons against the People’s Republic of China to deter it and push it to stop its attacks on Taiwan.
The Ceasefire Agreement
Faced with this situation, Eisenhower stressed his unwillingness to drag the United States into a war against the People’s China. Instead, Eisenhower concluded a military cooperation agreement with Taiwan that increased the number of U.S. military advisers to Taipei.
In January 1955, PLA forces continued their attacks on the Taiwanese islands. At the same time, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that would allow the president to send military forces and use nuclear weapons to support Taiwan.
NATO member states have intervened to voice their opposition to the idea of using nuclear weapons against the People’s Republic of China. As U.S. threats increased, in April 1955 the People’s Republic of China declared its desire to de-escalate with Taiwan. In early May of the same year, the two sides concluded a ceasefire agreement.