Use the links below to navigate between the pages.
The chronology will be expanded to track major cross-straits issues and events so check back often.


1996 Jan. 11, China (People's Republic): United States assistant military attache Lieutenant Colonel Bradley Gerdes of the Air Force and a driver are arrested near a military air base at Saixi in Guangdong Province in southern China. Although Gerdes had been traveling with the permission of the Chinese Government he is interrogated for 19 hours then released on January 12. Gerdes returns to Beijing on January 13 where he is given six days to leave the country with his wife and three children.

1996 Jan. 16, China (People's Republic): China begins to restrict the flow of news and economic information into the mainland by monitoring foreign financial news services and on-line trading systems through the "supervision" of the official Xinhua News Agency. Reuters and Dow Jones business news services are mainly affected.

1996 Jan. 22, China (People's Republic): The Philippines Navy reports an exchange of fire between a gunboat and vessels flying the Chinese flag 12 nautical miles off Campones Island, 72 miles northwest of Manila. The Philippine gunboat escaped after a 90-minute gun battle. Beijing denies the report and Manila decides not to file a diplomatic protest. It is ninth incident in 17 months between the Philippines and ships suspected to be from China, although the first in which shots were fired.

1996 Jan. 23, China (People's Republic): A New York Times report on a January 4 briefing by former Assistant Secretary of Defense, Chas. Freeman, Jr. to National Security Advisor Anthony Lake reveals Freeman informed Lake that he was told on a recent trip to China that the People's Liberation Army has prepared plans for a missile attack against Taiwan. The purported plan would consist of one conventional missile strike every day for 30 days. Freeman reports he was informed of the plan by a Chinese official who was the military is awaiting a final decision from Beijing.

1996 Jan. 24, China (People's Republic): Beijing denies the New York Times report that a month-long missile attack on Taiwan is planned.

1996 Feb. 6, 1996 China (People's Republic): A New York Times report reveals that Russia and China have concluded a broad secret agreement to upgrade the Chinese Air Force. A long-stalled sale of 72 high-performance Su-27 Flanker fighter planes to Beijing is concluded.

1996 Feb. 7, China (People's Republic): United States officials report China secretly sold nuclear-weapons technology to Pakistan the year before. Billions of dollars in sanctions under US law are threatened.

1996 Feb. 8, China (People's Republic): Chinese envoy Sha Zukang responds to US criticism of China's nuclear testing program by stating that the country with the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal is "not qualified to lecture" Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang says the US needs to stop selling weapons to Taiwan before the tensions between Beijing and Taipei can fade (Taipei was scheduled to receive 150 F-16 jet fighters from the US in 1996). Guofang also states China has a right to buy defensive weapons. The same day France promises to abide by a January 1994 agreement not to sell new arms to Taiwan.

1996 Feb. 9, China (People's Republic): China begins moving about 150,000 troops to an area on the coast opposite Taiwan. Chinese air strength is reinforces with 88 warplanes for a total of 226 aircraft deployed at 11 airports along 250 miles of coastline on southeastern Fujian Province. Four amphibious landing craft are deployed, two in the Fujian port of Xiamen (3.75 miles from the Taiwan-controlled island of Kinmen, and two at Pingtan (an island near the Taiwanese Matsu island).

1996 Feb. 22, United States: CIA Director John Deutch confirms that China continues to export "inappropriate" nuclear technology and missiles to Pakistan in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The CIA reports it believes M-11 missiles were transferred to Pakistan.

1996 Feb. 23, Taiwan (National Republic): Taiwanese presidential candidate Peng Ming-min states that, if elected, he will declare Taiwan's independence if China occupies even "one inch" of Taiwanese territory.

1996 March. 5, China (People's Republic): A report from China's official Xinhua News Agency states that the People's Liberation Army is palnning to stage a new series of missile exercises just off the Taiwanese coast from March 8 to 15. The report says the exercises will involve surface-to-surface missiles in one site northeast of Taiwan, about 21 miles from Keelung port, and another 32 miles west of the southern port of Kaohsiung, 250 miles apart.

1996 March 8-25, China (People's Republic): China starts a new round of missile exercises near Taiwan. Newsweek on March 18 reports the economic impact on Taiwan: "...The missiles' economic impact was real but limited. Taiwan's stock index dipped slightly after the tests were announced, but it began climbing again before the close of the week's trading. Shipping companies and airlines rerouted their craft around the missile-test areas; even so, most delays amounted to no more than 20 minutes or so. Many banks exhausted their regular supplies of U.S. currency, a traditional staple in tense times for many prudent Taiwanese. Nevertheless, government intervention kept the local currency unit, the New Taiwan Dollar, on a steady course. Taiwanese authorities did their best to keep the public calm, going so far as to praise the sophistication of China's missiles. There is little danger of an accident, Taiwanese officials insisted, because the M-9 is accurate to within 600 meters of its intended target. They also said the test missiles are equipped to self-destruct in case they do stray off course."

Missile Specifications:

M-9: Intermediate-range, mobile-launch, solid-propellant, ballistic missile. Range: 373 miles, Length: 33 feet. Warhead: Nuclear or conventional high explosive. Payload: Single warhead, 1100 pounds.

M-11: Short-range, mobile-launch, solid-propellant, ballistic missile. Range: 75-93 miles, Length: 33 feet. Warhead: Nuclear or conventional high explosive. Payload: Single warhead, 2200 pounds.

1996 March 8, China (People's Republic): Missile tests begin after midnight. At approximately hour-long intervals three M-9 ballistic missiles carrying dummy warheads splash down into target areas just 22 miles from Keelung, the island's second busiest seaport, and 32 miles from the harbor of Kaohsiung, the third largest container port in the world. These two ports account for 70 percent of Taiwan's import-export trade. China also stages maneuvers in a 6,600-square-mile area reaching to the mid-point of the Taiwan Strait, 30 to 70 miles from Taiwan. Beijing reports it will conduct "live ammunition" war games on March 12 in a 6,000-square-mile area obstructing most of the shipping and air traffic in the Taiwan Strait.

1996 March 10, China (People's Republic): US Secretary of State Warren Christopher announces the dispatch of a battle group led by the carrier USS Independence and joined by the destroyer Hewitt and guided-missile frigate McClusky the following day. The guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill took up a position south of the island to monitor China's missile tests

1996 March 11, United States of America: A second US carrier battle group is ordered into the area. The naval battle group led by the USS Independence, originally stationed about 200 miles off Taiwan the week prior in order to monitor China's ballistic missile exercises, is moved to within 100 miles, but remains outside the Taiwan Straight.

1996 March 12, China (People's Republic): China begins war games southwest of Taiwan. Taiwan announces they will defend themselves should the games be a front for an actual attack. Approximately ten Chinese ships conduct drills and ten warplanes practice air cover, surveillance and bombing runs near Dongshan and Nan Ao, located on China's southeastern coast. Taiwan's military forces are placed on heightened alert.

1996 March 13, China (People's Republic): China tests fires a missile near Taiwan, but this one does not cross Taiwan's territorial waters. F-14 and F-18 fighter planes take off from the USS Independence aircraft carrier (with an escort of a cruiser, destroyer, and a frigate) now positioned 200 miles off the east coast of Taiwan, on 90-minute flights practicing air intercepts and bombing runs.

1996 March 19, United States of America: President Bill Clinton approves Taiwan's request for Stinger air defense missiles and to buy an advanced targeting and navigation system for fighter jets and electronic warfare devices. Taiwan's request for submarines, however, is turned down.

1996 March 23, Taiwan (National Republic): Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) candidates Lee Teng-hui and Lien Chan win the first election for Taiwan President and Vice President, respectively, with 54 percent of the popular vote, unseating the long-time ruling party the Kuomintang (KMT).

1996 March 31, Taiwan (National Republic): The Taiwanese government announces that they will hold military exercises on and near the Matsu Islands in April.

1996 April 2, Taiwan (National Republic): Taiwan postpones military exercises set for April 7-10 in response to US and domestic concerns. The exercises are rescheduled to start June 30.

1996 Aug. 25, China (People's Republic): A Washington Post report details the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that China is assisting Pakistan to build a medium-range missile factory capable of manufacturing M-11 type missiles with a range of 185 to 200 miles. This is China's third violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which it had pledged to observe several times. Two other incidents involved the shipment of M-11 technology to Pakistan in 1993 and the sale of ring magnets earlier in 1996.
Latest Update: September 9, 2003