Tension haunts tiny Taiwanese isles that live in fear of war with China

The islands, three miles from the Chinese mainland, will be first to fall if antagonisms lead to an invasion

Tsai Li-chu recalls being a young mother on Taiwan’s Kinmen Island, when the shelling would start around 7pm most nights, launched from the People’s Republic of China just a few miles over the sea. “I remember having to run to the shelter with the kids, carrying the baby,” says Tsai, now a retired teacher in her 70s.

The bombardments – predominantly shells filled with propaganda leaflets – stopped only when the US government formally recognised communist China and cut ties with Taiwan in the late 1970s. But the hostilities never really went away. Today relations are at their worst point in decades, with Chinese threats to take control of Taiwan growing more realistic. Kinmen, or Quemoy, a tiny archipelago nearly 200 miles from Taipei but just three miles from the Chinese city of Xiamen, sits on the frontline.

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