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March 18 1950 Taiwan Nationalists Invade Mainland China

General Chiang Kai-Shek

On March 18th 1950, military forces of the Nationalist Chinese government on Taiwan made a surprise invasion of the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC),  and captured the mainland town of Sungmen. Because the United States supported the attack, it resulted in even deeper tensions and ill feeling between the U.S. and the PRC.

In October 1949, the leader of the communist revolution in China, Mao Zedong, declared victory against the Nationalist government of China and officially established the People’s Republic of China. Nationalist troops, politicians, and supporters fled the country to Taiwan, an island off the Chinese coast. Once there, they affirmed themselves the real Chinese government and were immediately recognised as such by the United States. Officials from the United States refused to have anything to do with the PRC government and adamantly refused to grant it diplomatic recognition.

Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek bombarded the mainland with propaganda broadcasts and pamphlets dropped from aircraft signaling his intention of invading the PRC and removing what he referred to as the “Soviet aggressors.” In the weeks preceding the March 18, 1950 raid, Chiang had been particularly vocal, charging that the Soviets were supplying the PRC with military advisors and an imposing arsenal of weapons. On March 18, thousands of Nationalist troops, supported by air and sea units, attacked the coast of the PRC, capturing the town of Sungmen that lay about 200 miles south of Shanghai. The Nationalists reported that they killed over 2,500 communist troops. Battles between the raiding group and communist forces continued for weeks, but eventually the Nationalist forces were defeated and driven back to Taiwan.

Perhaps more important than the military encounter was the war of words between the United States and the PRC. Communist officials immediately charged that the United States was behind the raid, and even suggested that American pilots and advisors accompanied the attackers. (No evidence has surfaced to support those charges.) American officials were cautiously supportive of the Nationalist attack, though what they hoped it would accomplish beyond minor irritation to the PRC remains unknown. Just eight months later, military forces from the PRC and the United States met on the battlefield in Korea. Despite suggestions from some officials, including the commander of U.S. troops General Douglas MacArthur, that the United States “unleash” the Nationalist armies against mainland China, President Harry S. Truman refrained from this action, fearing that it would escalate into World War III.

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9 thoughts on “March 18 1950 Taiwan Nationalists Invade Mainland China

  1. Great post. I’ve been thinking about writing a post about US forces in China. From a quick count here:


    Looks something like 27 occurrences. Don’t think most Americans are aware of how many times this has happened (I certainly wasn’t).

    I think it is pretty remarkable that Chinese people by and large are so pro-American.


    Posted by sujinyan | March 18, 2012, 12:10 am
  2. Chinese history is always a good read to me. Good article..


    Posted by mulrickillion | March 18, 2012, 12:48 am
  3. Their were also religious implications. Chiang Kai-Shek and his wife were Christians, and the Communists were atheists.


    Posted by halsmith | March 18, 2012, 2:41 am
  4. Interesting!


    Posted by Naomi Baltuck | March 18, 2012, 2:45 am
  5. I don’t think chinese people forget something… In fact, I believe they remember everything… Especially, those entrance-signs in public locations in commercial ports, enjoyed by colonial forces of the earlier time: “No entrance for dogs and chinese!”

    To remember and take count of everything — this is how they built their empires many times. Who knows… may be today a new begining we see.


    Posted by retrofilms.in | March 18, 2012, 4:32 am
    • I have never seen such signs, and I think that few people alive, could actually remember them. Perhaps it is time Chinese stopped seeking retribution for things that have no bearing on today’s society. The empires of the past and the colonial days are long gone, and neither will ever come back.


      Posted by Craig Hill | March 18, 2012, 9:08 am
      • You mean the son is not responsible for his father’s faults? This is not how Asian patriarchal society works.
        Neither a fancy and young globalism will change a millenary cultural asset of Chinese — taking lessons from history. Other way, I would like your words come true regarding the past and the colonial days.


        Posted by retrofilms.in | March 18, 2012, 8:54 pm
      • It is a basic principle of international law that a son is not responsible for his father’s wrongdoings. China has been both an in invader and the invaded over the past 5000 years, Nobody blames the current generation of China for things that China did 100 or more years ago. If that were the case, there would be no foundation for continued support of economic growth. The culture in China and the west today is much different than it was 100 years ago.


        Posted by Craig Hill | March 18, 2012, 9:25 pm


  1. Pingback: Taiwan could resist a Chinese invasion for just one month. | China Daily Mail - March 15, 2014

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