Third Taiwan Strait Crisis

Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
Taiwan Strait.png
Taiwan Strait
Date21 July 1995 – 23 March 1996
(8 months and 2 days)
LocationStrait of Taiwan
ResultCeasefire
Belligerents
 Republic of China (Taiwan)
 United States of America
 People's Republic of China
Commanders and leaders
Taiwan Lee Teng-hui
Taiwan Chiang Chung-ling
Taiwan Tang Fei
Taiwan Wu Shih-wen
Taiwan Tang Yao-ming
Taiwan Nelson Ku
Taiwan Huang Hsien-jung
Taiwan Wang Jo-yu
United States Bill Clinton
United States Archie Clemins
China Jiang Zemin
China Liu Huaqing
China Zhang Zhen
China Chi Haotian
People's Liberation Army Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Zhang Wannian
People's Liberation Army Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Fu Quanyou
Units involved
ROC Armed Forces
Emblem of the United States Navy.svg U.S. Seventh Fleet
China People's Liberation Army
Strength
Taiwan
MIM-104 Patriot, MIM-23 Hawk, Northrop F-5, F-CK-1, Lockheed F-104, Knox class frigate, Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate, etc.
United States Seventh Fleet insignia, 2016.png
USS Independence (CV-62), USS Nimitz (CVN-68), USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3), USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), etc.
China DF-15, J-7, J-8, etc.

The Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, also called the 1995–1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis or the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, was the effect of a series of missile tests conducted by the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the waters surrounding Taiwan including the Taiwan Strait from 21 July 1995, to 23 March 1996. The first set of missiles fired in mid-to-late 1995 were allegedly intended to send a strong signal to the Republic of China (ROC, commonly known as "Taiwan") government under Lee Teng-hui, who had been seen as moving ROC foreign policy away from the One-China policy. The second set of missiles were fired in early 1996, allegedly intending to intimidate the Taiwanese electorate in the run-up to the 1996 presidential election.

Lee's 1995 visit to Cornell

The crisis began when President Lee Teng-hui accepted an invitation from his alma mater, Cornell University to deliver a speech on "Taiwan's Democratization Experience". Seeking to diplomatically isolate the Republic of China, the PRC opposed such visits by ROC (commonly known as Taiwan) leaders. It argued that Lee harbored pro-Taiwan independence sentiments and was therefore a threat to stability in the region. A year earlier, in 1994, when President Lee's plane had stopped in Honolulu to refuel after a trip to South America, the U.S. government under President Bill Clinton refused Lee's request for a visa. Lee had been confined to the military airfield where he landed, forcing him to spend a night on his plane. A U.S. State Department official called the situation "embarrassing" and Lee complained that he was being treated as a second-class leader.

After Lee had decided to visit Cornell, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher assured PRC Foreign Minister Qian Qichen that a visa for Lee would be "inconsistent with [the U.S.'s] unofficial relationship [with Taiwan]." However, the humiliation from Lee's last visit caught the attention of many pro-Taiwan figures in the U.S. and this time, the United States Congress acted on Lee's behalf. In May 1995, a concurrent resolution asking the State Department to allow Lee to visit the U.S. passed the House 396 to 0 with 38 not voting, and the Senate 97 to 1 with 2 not voting.[1] The State Department relented on 22 May 1995, and the PRC condemned the U.S. for "ruining" Sino-American relations.

Lee spent June 9–10, 1995, in the U.S. at a Cornell Alumni reunion as the PRC state press branded him a "traitor" attempting to "split China".[2][3]