Taiwan Strait

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The Taiwan Strait or Formosa Strait (formerly Black Ditch) is a 180-km-wide (111.85-mile-wide) strait between China and Taiwan. The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to East China Sea to the northeast. The narrowest part is 131 km (81.4 mi.) wide.[1]

Contents

Geography

Fujian province in Mainland China is to the west of the strait, while important islands like Kinmen, Xiamen, Pingtan Island, and the Matsu Islands are nearby. To the east are the west coast of Taiwan and Penghu. The island fishermen use the strait as a fishing resource. The Minjiang and Jiulong Rivers empty into the strait.

There have been discussions about the strategic importance of the Taiwan Strait. Some Japanese politicians claimed that the Taiwan Strait is an essential sea route for oil shipment from the Middle East via the Malacca Strait to Japan[2]. However, some have argued that this is merely an excuse for intervention since the sea lane east of Taiwan is even shorter [3]

History

The Strait has been the theatre for several military confrontations between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan since the last days of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 when the Kuomintang (KMT) forces led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek retreated across the Strait and relocated its government on its final stronghold of Taiwan. A theoretical median line known as the cross-strait median (海峽中線) also exist on the water to prevent certain transportation from passing.[4]

As part of PR China's National Expressway Plan, a tunnel or possibly a bridge, was proposed in 2005 to link the cities of Fuzhou, Fujian, mainland China with Taipei, Taiwan across the strait (Map[5])). If such an extreme construction would ever be built, it would by far exceed the length of any man-made tunnel in the world today. Engineers in Beijing state that a tunnel is technically feasible. The ROC had refused to open direct links out of concern for the island's security and in fear that by doing so it would have to recognize Beijing's one-China policy.[6][7]

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