Quemoy is one of the islands off the mainland of China. It is part of?
Quemoy is one of the islands off the mainland of China. It is part of the Chiang Kai Shek regime. From its sandy shores the coast of the People's Republic of China is only one-and-a-half miles (two kilometres) away. For twenty years Quemoy has been a place of uneasy peace, of constant alert of an expected invasion which has never come. Those two decades of tension have mellowed the atmosphere of impending war to the point where military and civilian live together in natural harmony as the accepted wary of life. But the vigil across the short stretch of water is maintained round-the-clock.
Since the shelling of Quemoy from the mainland of China ten years ago, the hostilities have, in face become a cold war. The duel has developed into one of psychology and propaganda.
But even while living with the threat of an outbreak of hostilities over them, the people of Quemoy have done much to glamourise their island. Vast sums of money are constantly poured into Quemoy's defences. Gun emplacements bristle along the coastline, daily loudspeaker broadcasts and propaganda-carrying balloons send their political message across to China.
There is, also money spent on making Quemoy what its people call a "garden", or as one Taiwan officer is reported to have said: "A garden above and a fortress below".
Since 1949 the planting of more than 50 million trees has turned the island from a barren pile of rocks into a place of greenery, of lush vegetation.
But despite the apparent surface peace, there is no escaping the military domination of Quemoy. Underground shelter and bunkers are to be found everywhere on the island, both military and civilian.
The decibel measured peace of Quemoy is regularly shattered by ultra-powerful loudspeakers blaring anti-Mao messages ad slogans from studios far below the surface. When the messages stop, the music begins. The loudspeakers are said to be able to penetrate more than 15 miles (nine kilometres) into China. This is psychological warfare in the bid to rock the strength of Mao-Tse-tung.
But the propaganda campaign is two-sided. Regularly both sides bombard each other with propaganda missiles -- harmless cascade shells and hydrogen-filled balloons supporting baskets of newspapers, leaflets and sometimes clothing, hopefully to sway??? either side into changing their political beliefs.
It's a soft war, but there is no let-up in military training. The whole of Quemoy has been organised into civil defence units, spread over what are known as "combat villages".
On the beaches, frogmen train for forays against the mainland which, although they represent little more than pinprick nuisance value, stimulate morale and maintain the dream of the Chiang Kai Shek regime of one day returning to the mainland of China.
While Quemoy sustains its beliefs together with the rest of Taiwan; it stays endlessly on the alert and trains both its young and old for the day when they will be called for the major assault. The propaganda machinery remains little more than a visible sign for the island's inhabitants. The effectiveness of the balloons, in particular is open to debate. Sometimes they land in Pakistan.