Sun, Nov 17, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan in Time: Spies, guerillas and the final counterattack

Anti-communist troops and agents increasingly infiltrated China in the early 1960s, while Chiang Kai-shek prepared a fullscale invasion through the Guoguang Project

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

The Central Daily News article also mentions this increased activity, noting that between March 1962 and November 1963, 56 brigades consisting of 1,785 soldiers had successfully conducted operations in China. “Five provinces along the coast and strategic inland locations have felt the blows of guerrilla and commando bands,”the Taiwan Today article states.

The article speaks glowingly about the successes of these operations, pays respect to a few failures and concludes that “they are the vanguard of the struggle for a free and peaceful China, and of a victory that must be won before the Chinese Communists can spread nuclear devastation across the earth.”


The intensifying military activity in 1963 is likely tied to the Guoguang Project (國光計畫), initiated in 1961 to take advantage of China’s disastrous Great Leap Forward and launch a full-scale invasion.

The plan appears to be highly unrealistic. Admiral Wang Ho-su (王河肅) recalls in an oral history book published by the Ministry of National Defense that they were to launch a surprise attack on Xiamen and quickly establish a base, cut off the railroad and then either invade Guangdong or Fujian from there. So much of the plan’s success depended on external factors, including US military aid, the anti-communist sentiments of the Chinese as well as the questionable loyalty of the former KMT troops who had been stranded in China for over a decade.

The US predictably was not supportive, and meanwhile, China successfully tested its first nuclear weapon in October 1964. Chiang reportedly was adamant on the invasion, stating: “There is no way that we will wait for American permission!” Judging from the various accounts in the oral history book, nobody dared to speak out against Chiang.

On June 17, 1965, Chiang made a dramatic pep talk to the officers at the ROC Military Academy, noting that the “counterattack on the mainland” would soon begin and that they should write their wills in advance.

Things did not go smoothly at all. A landing drill on June 24, 1965 ended up in disaster, when strong waves overturned five amphibious assault vehicles, causing over 10 deaths. On Aug. 6, two warships set out to transport agents to China for advance scouting, but the PLA had already caught wind of the mission. It dispatched a torpedo fleet that intercepted the warships at sea, sinking both and killing around 200 troops. Admiral Hsu Hsueh-hai (徐學海) recalls that the ROC Air Force was not informed of this mission due to a communication error, and its reinforcements arrived too late.

“The failure of this challenging mission directly affected [Chiang’s] confidence and determination. He was already very old and sick, and there was nobody who could replace him as a top decision maker. So the plan to retake China was shelved,” recalls General Chu Yuan-tsung (朱元琮).

Taiwan in Time, a column about Taiwan’s history that is published every Sunday, spotlights important or interesting events around the nation that have anniversaries this week.

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