A Tenuous Relationship

Taiwan's soldiers, armed with some of America's newest weapons, train as if war were just around the corner with mainland China, which still sees Taiwan as a renegade province. CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen reports.


It was in Quemoy that the army opposing Mao Tse-tung's Communists retreated when he took control of China 50 years ago.

Mao tried to capture Taiwan by unsuccessfully invading the tiny island of Quemoy, a hundred miles off Taiwan's coast. It remains one of the most dangerous flash points in Asia, carefully watched by America, which has pledged to defend Taiwan.

And Taiwan has one of the most heavily fortified beaches in the world, and no wonder. China is right there barely a mile away. And the Chinese say they will take back Taiwan, by force if necessary. If it's by force, the first battle could very well begin on this beach.


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Fisherman Tong Min Yang doesn't fear shooting. He says he's not worried about shells; it's the Communists he's worried about.

There were more than a million shells fired when China pummeled Quemoy back in the 1950s. American ships helped evacuate refugees. Old timers remember the shelling well.

One or two, OK, but when there were hundreds, all you could do was run and hide, says Mr. Lin.

Wu Tseng Dong turns a profit off of those old shells by hammering them into kitchen knives. He'd welcome reunification with China. He could sell the country back its once-deadly steel.

But China has to change, he says. It has to become more democratic.

Taiwan's president, Lee Teng-hui, now says he wants China to recognize Taiwan as an equal state - prompting more saber rattling by the Chinese military off the coast of Quemoy.

If the Chinese ever invaded, Taiwan would be put to the ultimate test and so would American soldiers whose lives could be on the line defending the world's most fortified beaches.
©1999, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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