Kinmen is a set of islands of Taiwan 3km from the Chinese mainland. To the north, west, and south is PR China. The main island of Taiwan is an hour’s flight over the sea away.
Little Kinmen is so close to China that you can look over the narrow expanse of water and see the other coastline clearly. I once had a base of operations on the other side in Xiamen. I had an apartment on the beach, and each morning I would wake up and look out at Taiwan.
While Kinmen has traditionally always been inconspicuously referred to in conjunction with Xiamen, it has now become a historical oddity. It was, and still is, the last stand of the Guomindang — the KMT, Sun Yat-sen’s and later on Chiang Kai-shek’s posse who helped overthrow the Qing Dynasty and more or less ruled China as a republic until the Communists gave them the boot.
But what is seldom spoken of is the fact that the Mao-led Chinese communists never fully won their civil war. The Nationalist government that they rose up against fled to Taiwan, leaving the Kinmen islands as the final frontline, where they bunkered down and have yet to be rooted out.
This is why the Taiwan issue burns PR China so bad: it’s probably the People’s Republic’s biggest failure.
Technically speaking, the Chinese Civil War never ended. Officially, at least, the Communists are still at war with the Nationalists. The frontline is still Kinmen, where I should be for the next two months.