Chiang Kai-Shek, who succeeded Sun Yat-sen as head of the Kuomingtang (KMT), the nationalist, anti-communist party behind the Republic of China (ROC), dedicated his life to building a unified and modern China. By 1949, though, he’d lost the long war on the mainland against communism and was forced to retreat with his followers to establish the ROC on Taiwan. From that day forward, Mao Zedong wanted to destroy the ROC. His generals prepared for a Battle of Taiwan, something Xi Jinping apparently still desires. Xi may discover, though, as Mao did, that the ROC and Taiwan aren’t easy to destroy.
The ROC’s tenure on the Chinese mainland ended on January 14, 1949. For the remainder of 1949, while staying one step ahead of Mao’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Chiang managed multiple trips between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, as he worked to establish a nationalist ROC in exile on the island.
Beginning in August 1949, Chiang began to relocate the Republic of China Air Force to Taiwan. He also sent 26 naval vessels from the nationalist army to Taiwan. Many institutions and universities joined them and were re-established in Taiwan, along with refugees fleeing the PLA.
Mao feared that, if Chiang and the ROC were ensconced on Taiwan, they would try to return to the mainland to resume power. Mao wanted to prevent such a possibility. Therefore, in June 1949, Mao had instructions for the PLA: Please begin to study the issue of taking over Taiwan. Is it possible to seize Taiwan in a short period of time? What method will be used? Please proceed to study. And telegraph with preliminary comments. In response, Mao’s chief advisors told him that an invasion would require a large-scale military operation, for which the PLA wasn’t ready. They urged Mao to embed secret agents in […]
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