• The Chinese military command responsible for the Taiwan Strait says a 1950 battle highlights a “winning code” for combat.
  • Social-media posts about an exhibition on the Hainan battle follow unprecedented drills around Taiwan after Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

The People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command — whose area of responsibility includes the Taiwan Strait — has said a 1950 assault on Hainan island offers “valuable experience” for future seaborne landings.

The command’s social media accounts recently posted about an exhibition jointly organised with Hainan Provincial Museum that tells the story of how the PLA took control of the island.

It comes during a sensitive time after the PLA conducted large-scale drills encircling the island of Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island last week.

The battle of Hainan was one of the last actions of the Chinese civil war between the victorious Communist forces, which seized control of the mainland in 1949. But the beaten Nationalist, or Kuomintang, forces under Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan, which Beijing has vowed to bring under its control eventually.

Chinese troops land on Hainan Island in 1950

Chinese Communist troops landing on Hainan Island in 1950.

ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The introduction to the exhibition says: “This battle provided valuable experience for future wars, especially for crossing the sea and landing on an island.”

The Battle of Hainan Island was one of the few sea landings conducted by the PLA in its history and came a year after an assault on two KMT-held islands failed. In the battle the PLA carried out waves of mass landings and assaults forcing the Nationalist forces to flee from the island.

It described the battle as a victory against the odds — won without dominance in the air or sea, and using more than 2,000 wooden sailboats and around 100 motor boats to ferry the troops across the 20km (12-mile) strait that separates it from the mainland.

“It created the miracle of wooden sailboats defeating ironclad ships,” it said, adding that looking back at the battle would help the PLA “explore the winning code” for future wars.

Taiwan China amphibious landing military exercise

Taiwanese troops during an exercise simulating an attempted amphibious landing by Chinese forces, May 30, 2019.

Kyodo News Stills via Getty Images

The post said the command would organise study courses on military history to help prepare for combat and quoted soldiers who had visited the exhibition as saying “we are more confident and capable of defeating all enemies and maintaining the motherland’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

However, the PLA has also been practising modern warfare tactics recently.

On Tuesday state broadcaster CCTV reported that the PLA’s 73rd Group Army, which is likely to play a key role in any attack on Taiwan, conducted a series of amphibious landing drills in Fujian province.

Without giving the date or location, PLA Daily also reported on Wednesday that marines had practised landing operations.

Beijing sees the island as a breakaway province and has vowed to bring it under its control by force, if necessary. Most countries, including the US, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state but Washington and its allies oppose any attempt to take the island by military means.

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