(Kinmen, Taiwan, special) – “Not even the garbage wants to stay in China today”. The words belong to a resident of Kinmena symbolic and tiny Taiwanese island from whose coast you can see how the skyscrapers of Xiamen -a monumental city of almost six million inhabitants in the province of Fujian– rise on the near horizon, just 1.8 kilometers away. Whoever utters that phrase full of sarcasm is referring to the tons of waste that is not controlled on the continental side and crosses the sea to run aground on the fortified island beaches.
all in Kinmen It has the smell of a possible Chinese landing.
It is this first line of islands that is under permanent threat. AND Xi Jinping he might try to start his invasion for them. “If he attacks Kinmen first, for example, then the war will have reached Taiwan. Thus, Taiwan will have more time to prepare and, at the same time, there will also be international solidarity and increased foreign aid. That’s why we don’t think he’ll attack the outer islands first, unless it’s all at once, of course.“, says Hung Tzu-Chiehresearcher at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a think tank Taiwanese specialized in military issues.
In a hypothetical war against this archipelago, international sanctions would also begin to be triggered against China continentalsomething that would hit even more the deteriorated economy of Beijing. If anything, finally, Xi decided to attack this string of small islands first and leave the Taiwan for a later mission – something unlikely for the analyst -, Kinmen has the resources and training to defend itself independently and autonomously from Taipei. He knows that aid and resupply, with current Chinese naval capacity, would be nearly impossible and that his fall would be early.
Kung Shan-Sonfrom the same non-governmental organization, considers that Xi Its main objective is to build a world-class military by 2035. In that process, if it takes Taiwan, better. But on that risky path he would have to deal with two other countries, such as Japan and Koreato which will be added the state Joined. If on that journey, China wants to advance Kinmen, it will not be so easy. Or rather, it won’t be free. Not only because it will give the main island time to strengthen and prepare, but because of the international impact. You would lose valuable time on your ultimate goal.
In any case, and despite the fact that this enclave so close to Xiamen should defend itself independently, Taipei would continue to recognize its belonging. “The Ministry of Military Affairs has already announced before the Legislative Yuan that the outer islands will not be renounced if they are attacked and that it will depend on each situation, both political and military, on how they will be reinforced. We will see it in the moment, but we are not going to give up any of the islands”he explained Kung.
The first Taiwanese shield
Kinmen It is a historically militarized island, further away from Taiwan what of China, with which its 140 thousand inhabitants maintain commercial and economic ties… as long as the continent enables transactions, communications and ferry travel that unites both communities. Many of the families on both sides of the coasts are even mixed. Their intertwined ties are so deep, despite official distrust.
This island, which has other islets under its control, functioned until the 90s as an almost exclusively military base. It was the focus of one of the bloodiest battles between the communists and the nationalists some time after those led by Chiang Kai-shek lost the civil war and took refuge in Taiwan definitively – under the old name of the Republic of China – and Mao Zedong would keep the continent and make it communist.
That battle, that of Guningtoumarked part of the history of China with Taiwan to the present. It lasted just three days between October 25, 26 and 27, 1949, when the Kuomintang (the nationalists of Chiang) managed to stop the communist advance and convert Kinmen as the first defense wall of Taiwan.
The remains of those intense combats can still be seen today. They remain petrified in an old house almost a hundred years old that was taken by the communists as a military base and besieged until their surrender. The marks of enemy shots still remain on its walls. The house – which had belonged to the brothers Li Jinyu, Li Yanya and Li Tianzu, three coconut merchants at the time – is now a hostel for tourists.
At every step taken on this island there are signs of its war course and its present as the first barrier to a potential conflict between China and Taiwan. In every corner you can see tanks that were donated decades ago by the state Joinednow useless, converted into open-air museum pieces.
But they are not the only signs of island militarization. The tunnel Zhaishan is another example of how Taipei He prepared this corner when it was only a defensive military base. It was built between 1961 and 1966, after the second Strait Crisis occurred in 1958 when artillery fire lasted 44 days. Military engineers designed it as a supply gateway in the event of a conflict with the continent., a way to provide one’s own troops with food and weapons without the enemy knowing their location. Small boats could enter its waters from Taiwan. It was closed years later, until it was reopened as a tourist attraction.
When coming out of the tunnels, rumblings are heard. One after another. They add tens and tens in just a few minutes. This is a military exercise that is taking place a few hundred meters away. None of its inhabitants are startled: They live with these types of explosions every day. “Oh yes… shots fired. All the time”.
From the shocking Kinmen Bridge that connects the big island with the smallest of Lieyuyou can see, frank, the coast of Xiamen and its buildings that emerge very vertically. On this side of the sea something also protrudes from the sand: it is a defensive structure of thousands of iron beams that point to the sea like daggers to contain an amphibious invasion. A warm welcome reception.
In another part of the island, in Jinningattraction is Transmission Wall Beishan. It is a gigantic propaganda construction with 48 speakers that began operating in 1967 until the end of the 1970s. It broadcast traditional music and messages to soldiers on the other side of the strait to change their uniforms and cross the shore. On the continent they did the same. The success of both propaganda initiatives was blown away by the wind: no one defected. It remained installed there, working, like souvenir from another era.
The history of this warrior island holds another secret. Between 1958 and 1979 China dropped around half a million bombs on the island. Daily. Most of them exploded in the air, spreading propaganda material. Pamphlets with pro-communist slogans. They were times of maowhen capitalism had not yet visited the opposite shores, in Xiamenand its skyscrapers did not exist.
But one resident, Wu Tseng-donghe knew that he could do something with the remains of bombs that fell daily in the gardens of the houses of the inhabitants of Kinmen. Following family tradition, the Master Wu, as he is known, decided to use what was left of those enormous ammunition to melt the steel and shape it into knives. The business is still a success 65 years later. Even neighbors continue to find remains and bring them to their factory. It is their way of contributing to peace. A peace that is increasingly threatened.
Photos and video: Laureano Pérez Izquierdo, Infobae.