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HKFP Lens: The stunning, surprising vistas of Taiwan’s ‘frontline islands’

After the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) leader Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan in 1949, the Matsu islands—together with Kinmen farther south—became known as the Republic of China’s “frontline islands,” the northern anchor of an offshore defence chain just a few kilometres from the Communist-held mainland.

Matsu islands panorama

For Chiang, they were also an advanced staging ground for the forces of “Free China” to retake the country they had lost to Mao Zedong.

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu is one of just four counties nationwide still dominated by the party that once ruled with an iron fist, but is now struggling just to keep itself together and remain relevant.

Matsu islands panorama

Read more in HKFP’s feature by Ryan Kilpatrick: Voting on the Frontline: After crushing defeat, Taiwan’s KMT clings to islands on China’s shore.

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

Matsu islands panorama

HKFP Lens: The stunning, surprising vistas of Taiwan's 'frontline islands'