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June 18, 2024

China’s Dispute With Taiwan Is Playing Out Near This Tiny Island

China’s Dispute With Taiwan Is Playing Out Near This Tiny Island

Asia Pacific|China’s Dispute With Taiwan Is Playing Out Near This Frontline Island




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A fatal incident off Kinmen, a Taiwanese-controlled island, has become the latest occasion for Beijing to warn and test Taiwan’s president-elect.

Anti-tank fortifications line a beach on the Taiwanese island of Kinmen, several miles off China’s coast. Tensions with China have risen in recent months.Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

A small island controlled by Taiwan a few miles off China’s coast lived for decades in constant readiness for war. At one point in 1958, troops there hunkered in bunkers as Communist forces rained hundreds of thousands of shells on them.

These days, the island, Kinmen, has become a hub of Taiwan’s commerce with China and its abandoned, weatherworn fortifications are tourist sites. Eight ferries a day take Taiwanese businesspeople and visitors from Kinmen to mainland China.

But the sea around Kinmen has again turned tense after two Chinese men onboard a speedboat died in the area last month while trying to flee a Taiwanese Coast Guard vessel.


In an image provided by the Taiwan Coast Guard, workers carried out a rescue operation after a Chinese speedboat capsized near Kinmen.Credit…Taiwan Coast Guard Administration, via Associated Press

China has said the patrols are to protect Chinese fishing boats. But the patrols also fit more broadly with China’s strategy of squeezing Taiwan, an island-democracy that Beijing claims as its territory, while stopping short of setting off a major confrontation that would draw in the United States.

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