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An island six miles off the coast of mainland China, which in 1949 the Nationalist forces had managed to defend against Communist encroachment. It became part of the Republic of China (Taiwan), which regarded it as a base for a future reconquest of mainland China, while using the island in the 1950s as a base for guerrilla raids against the People's Republic. Conversely, it was seen by Mao as the epitome of provocation to the sovereignty of Communist China, and a symbol of his failure to extend his authority over all of China. Mao ordered an invasion twice in 1954 and 1958, each time to withdraw in the face of heavy US presence. It became protected by a US‐Taiwanese alliance, and was heavily fortified. Nevertheless, in subsequent decades it became a primary focus for Communist Chinese sabre‐rattling, with Communist China periodically conducting regular military manoeuvres nearby. The island was under direct military rule until 1992, when civilian government was restored. In 2000, direct shipping links were restored to mainland China.

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