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Taiwan in Time: T-Day: The fall of Taiwan

Cheng Lang-ping’s 1994 book predicting a Chinese invasion of Taiwan was an unprecedented bestseller. His claims almost came true with the outbreak of the Taiwan Strait Crisis the following July

By Han cheung  /  Staff reporter

The cover of T-Day: The Warning of Taiwan Strait War, a bestseller in 1995.

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

July 17 to July 23

On March 23, 1996, a blast ripped through the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters. The bomb contained nerve gas, killing everything within a one-kilometer radius. The Ministry of National Defense was also hit. The nation’s broadcasting systems and telecommunications then went down, with the Chinese Communist Party hijacking the television channels to announce the People’s Liberation Army’s arrival in response to “political chaos due to [Taiwan’s] direct [presidential] elections.”

Soldiers visited government leaders, forcing them at gunpoint to record videos telling the military and police not to resist. China’s five-star red flag was raised atop the presidential palace 15 minutes after the initial announcement. About 30 minutes later, massive numbers of paratroopers landed from more than 1,000 fighter planes, while tens of thousands of amphibious forces arrived from the south. The Chinese then boasted of their nuclear weapons while quickly taking out any remaining resistance.

Enemy forces continued coming in throughout the day, and by the next morning, both sides of the Taiwan Strait announced their unification.

This imaginary invasion, dubbed T-day (Taiwan’s Fall Day), merely occupies one chapter of Cheng Lang-ping’s (鄭浪平) book, T-Day: The Warning of Taiwan Strait War (一九 九 五閏八月), published in August 1994. The rest of the book is political analysis, which does not make for popular reading. However, the fact that it sold a record 300,000 (some figures put it as high as 500,000) copies within a year showed the unease among the Taiwanese population.

At time of publication, tensions between Taiwan and China were high as then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) embarked on an aggressive diplomatic campaign to raise Taiwan’s international stature. Just three days earlier, the National Assembly amended the constitution to allow direct presidential elections in 1996, angering China.


When China launched six missiles into waters just about 150km away from Taiwan between July 21 and July 28, 1995, Cheng was lauded as a prophet. The situation continued to escalate as China conducted military exercises in the Taiwan Strait throughout the rest of the year.

“How did the predictions in Cheng’s book come true? Is it a coincidence, or is it foresight? Will things continue to develop as depicted in the book?” asked the author of a CommonWealth (天下雜誌) magazine editorial published in September 1995.

The editorial adds that “prediction books” often have the ability to affect public opinion, which may in turn affect the government’s actions. As a result, this may decrease the chances that the predictions come true — which is the true function of such books.

That did seem to be Cheng’s intention. “I want to warn all Taiwanese about the possibility of T-day. I hope that before it happens, we can face this historical crisis and change our fate,” he wrote.

Cheng’s proposed solution to the problem was for Taiwanese to unite and show that they will not back down from Chinese invasion while showing China that they have no intention of “dividing China’s territory.” Taiwan should also hold high-level talks with China and start cooperating economically, which would yield immediate benefits that would deter an invasion (this did eventually happen).

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