US military considered using nuclear weapons against China in 1958

US military considered using nuclear weapons against China in 1958
Nationalist Chinese soldiers on Quemoy Island, which became the focus of an artillery bombardment from mainland China in 1958. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: Military planners in the US pushed for the White House to prepare plans to use nuclear weapons against mainland China in 1958, during the Taiwan Strait crisis. Newly leaked documents appear to confirm this.

The New York Times first reported the documents on Saturday, reveal the extent of Washington’s discussions about using nuclear weapons to deter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, including the acceptance by some military leaders of the US of possible retaliatory nuclear strikes on US bases.

The new information was provided to the New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971 that detailed the US government’s duplicity in its handling of the Vietnam War.

On Sunday, Ellsberg said in a post to his Twitter: “US first use of nuclear weapons should not be contemplated, prepared, or threatened anywhere, under any circumstances, including the defense of Taiwan.”

In 1949, after the Communist Party took power in mainland China, following a brutal civil war, the Nationalist government fled to Taiwan.

But mainland China viewed the island as part of its territory, and the two sides clashed intermittently over the following decades.

The closest China and the US came to armed conflict was during the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1958, when the People’s Republic of China fired artillery at Taipei’s outlying islands.

US worried the shelling could be a precursor to a full invasion.

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