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Taiwan Strait

Coordinates: 24°48′40″N 119°55′42″E / 24.81111°N 119.92833°E / 24.81111; 119.92833
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Strait is located in Taiwan
Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Strait is located in Fujian
Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Strait is located in Asia
Taiwan Strait
Taiwan Strait
Bathymetry of the Taiwan Strait Area
LocationSouth China Sea, East China Sea (Pacific Ocean
Coordinates24°48′40″N 119°55′42″E / 24.81111°N 119.92833°E / 24.81111; 119.92833
Basin countries China
Min. width130 km (81 mi)
Taiwan Strait
Traditional Chinese臺灣海峽
Simplified Chinese台湾海峡
Hokkien POJTâi-ôan Hái-kiap
Traditional Chinese臺海
Simplified Chinese台海
Hokkien POJTâi-hái
Literal meaningTaiwan Sea
Black Ditch
Traditional Chinese烏水溝
Simplified Chinese乌水沟
Hokkien POJO͘ Chúi-kau
Literal meaningBlack Ditch

The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometer (110 mi; 97 nmi)-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan and the Asian continent. The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north. The narrowest part is 130 km (81 mi; 70 nmi) wide.[1]

The Taiwan Strait is itself a subject of an international dispute over its political status. As the China claims to enjoy "sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait" and regards the waterway as "internal territorial waters" instead of being international waters, this means that the Chinese government denies any foreign vessel having the freedom of navigation to cross the strait without Chinese official consent.[2][3][4] This position has drawn strong objections from the United States, South Korea, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and France.[5][6][7][8]



Former names of the Taiwan Strait include the Formosa Strait or Strait of Formosa, from a dated name for Taiwan; the Strait of Fokien or Fujian, from the Chinese province forming the strait's western shore;[9] and the Black Ditch, a calque of the strait's name in Hokkien and Hakka.



The Taiwan Strait is the body of water separating Fujian Province from Taiwan Island. The international agreement does not define the Taiwan Strait but places its waters within the South China Sea, whose northern limit runs from Cape Fugui (the northernmost point on Taiwan Island; Fukikaku) to Niushan Island to the southernmost point of Pingtan Island and thence westward along the parallel 25° 24′ N. to the coast of Fujian Province.[10] The draft for a new edition of the IHO's Limits of Oceans and Seas does precisely define the Taiwan Strait, classifying it as part of the North Pacific Ocean.[11] It makes the Taiwan Strait a body of water between the East and South China Seas and delimits it:[12]

On the North: A line joining the coast of China (25° 42′ N - 119° 36′ E) eastward to Xiang Cape (25° 40′ N - 119° 47′ 10″ E), the northern extremity of Haitan Island, and thence to Fugui Cape (25° 17′ 45″ N - 121° 32′ 30″ E), the northern extremity of Taiwan Island (the common limit with the East China Sea, see 7.3).

On the East: From Fugui Cape southward, along the western coast of Taiwan Island, to Eluan Cape (21° 53′ 45″ N - 120° 51′ 30″ E), the southern extremity of this island.

On the South: A line joining Eluan Cape northwestward, along the southern banks of Nanao Island, to the southeastern extremity of this island (23° 23′ 35″ N - 117° 07′ 15″ E); thence westward, along the southern coast of Nanao Island, to Changshan Head (23° 25′ 50″ N - 116° 56′ 25″ E), the western extremity of this island; and thence a line joining Changshan Head westward to the mouth of the Hanjiang River (23° 27′ 30″ N - 116° 52′ E), on the coast of China (the common limit with the South China Sea, see 6.1).

On the West: From the mouth of Hanjiang River northeastward, along the coast of China, to position 25° 42′ N - 119° 36′ E.

The entire strait is on Asia's continental shelf. It is almost entirely less than 150 m (490 ft; 82 fathoms) deep, with a short ravine of that depth off the southwest coast of Taiwan. As such, there are many islands in the strait. The largest and most important islands off the coast of Fujian are Xiamen, Gulangyu, Pingtan (the "Haitan" of the IHO delineation), Kinmen, and Matsu. The first three are controlled by the People's Republic of China (PRC); the last two by the Republic Of China (ROC). Within the strait lie the Penghu or the Pescadores, also controlled by the ROC. There is a major underwater bank 40–60 km (25–37 mi) north of the Penghu Islands.[13]

All of Fujian Province's rivers except the Ting run into the Taiwan Strait. The largest two are the Min and the Jiulong.[citation needed]

Distributions of rivers in Taiwan and their annual sediment loads

Median line


A theoretical "median line", also known as the Davis line, was defined down the middle of the strait by US Air Force General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. in 1955, after which the US pressured both sides not to cross it.[14] As a tacit understanding, it never gained official or legal status. The PRC avoided the line when its air and naval powers were still weak but has never recognized the median line. Aircraft from Taiwan crossed it frequently until the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958.[15] After its first encroachment in 1999, China has sent aircraft over the median line with increasing regularity,[16] although it tries not to do so when relations with Taiwan are good.[17]

In 2019, Taiwan's defense ministry provided coordinates for the median line. The ministry recognizes the line as running from 27°N, 122°E in the north to 23°N, 118°E on the southern end.[18]



Sediment distribution


Each year, Taiwan's rivers carry up to 370 million tons of sediments into the sea, including 60 to 150 million tons deposited into the Taiwan Strait.[19] During the past ten thousand years, 600 billion tons of riverine sediments have been deposited in the Taiwan Strait, locally forming a lobe up to 40 m thick in the southern part of the Taiwan Strait.[19]

Holocence sediment depth in the Taiwan strait, in meters


The Taiwan strait appeared at the start of the current warmer period.

The Strait mostly separated the Han culture of the Chinese mainland from Taiwan Island's aborigines for millennia, although the Hakka and Hoklo traded and migrated across it. European explorers, principally the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch, also took advantage of the strait to establish forward bases for trade with the mainland during the Ming; the bases were also used for raiding both the Chinese coast and the trading ships of rival countries.[citation needed]

Widespread Chinese migration across the strait began in the late Ming. During the Qing conquest, Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) expelled the Dutch and established the Kingdom of Tungning in 1661, planning to launch a reconquest of the mainland in the name of the Southern Ming branches of the old imperial dynasty. Dorgon and the Kangxi Emperor were able to consolidate their control over southern mainland China; Koxinga found himself limited to raiding across the strait. His grandson Zheng Keshuang surrendered to the Qing after his admiral lost the 1683 Battle of the Penghu Islands in the middle of the strait.[citation needed]

Japan seized the Penghu Islands during the First Sino-Japanese War and gained control of Taiwan at its conclusion in 1895. Control of the eastern half of the strait was used to establish control of the southern Chinese coast during the Second World War. The strait protected Japanese bases and industry in Taiwan from Chinese attack and sabotage, but aerial warfare reached the island by 1943. The 1944 Formosa Air Battle gave the United States Pacific Fleet air supremacy from its carrier groups and Philippine bases; subsequently, the bombing was continuous until Japan's surrender in 1945.[citation needed] The rapid advance of the Communist PLA in 1949 provoked the government's retreat across the Taiwan Strait.

In the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War, People's Republic of China and Republic of China had multiple brief armed conflicts on the Taiwan Strait, consequently named the First Taiwan Strait Crisis, the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, and the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. These confrontations did not result in large-scale military conflicts between China and Taiwan. In the 21st century, the Cross-Strait relations stabilized, leading to the establishment of Three Links on 15 December 2008, with the commencement of direct commercial flights, shipping, and post across the Taiwan Strait.

On 25 May 2002, China Airlines Flight 611 broke up in mid-air and crashed into the Taiwan Strait, killing all 225 people on board.[20] On 26 February 2022, China denounced the sailing of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson through the Taiwan Strait as a "provocative act".[21]



Fishermen have used the strait as a fishing resource since time immemorial. In the modern world, it is the gateway used by ships of almost every kind on passage to and from nearly all the important ports in Northeast Asia.[22] In 2020 Chinese vessels had been illegally fishing and dredging sand on the Taiwanese half of the strait.[23]

Taiwan is building major wind farms in the strait.[24]


See also





  1. ^ "Geography". Government Information Office. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on June 13, 2022". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 13 June 2022. Archived from the original on 2 August 2022. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  3. ^ Lynn Kuok (13 July 2022). "Narrowing the differences between China and the US over the Taiwan Strait". International Institute for Strategic Studies. Archived from the original on 16 July 2022. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  4. ^ Jill Goldenziel (28 June 2022). "China Claims To Own The Taiwan Strait. That's Illegal". Forbes. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  5. ^ "America and China spar over the Taiwan Strait". The Economist. 23 June 2022. Archived from the original on 16 August 2022. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  6. ^ David Crowe, Peter Hartcher (6 August 2022). "Marles accuses China of breaching UN rules with Taiwan exercises". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 11 August 2022. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  7. ^ "MOFA solemnly reiterates that the Taiwan Strait constitutes international waters, refuting false claims made by Chinese officials during recent meetings with the US". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan). 14 June 2022. Archived from the original on 3 August 2022. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  8. ^ Yang Cheng-yu, William Hetherington (11 July 2022). "Strait belongs to all: top French officer". Taipei Times. Archived from the original on 13 July 2022. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  9. ^ EB (1879), p. 415.
  10. ^ IHO (1953), §49.
  11. ^ IHO (1986), Ch. 7.
  12. ^ IHO (1986), Ch. 7.2.
  13. ^ Sea depth map.
  14. ^ Micallef, Joseph V. (6 January 2021). "Why Taiwan Will Be at the Center of the China-US Rivalry". www.military.com. Military.com. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  15. ^ 大公報文章:"海峽中線"應該廢除, chinareviewnews.com. (in Chinese)
  16. ^ Tai-ho, Lin. "Air defense must be free of political calculation". www.taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  17. ^ "What is the Median Line Between China and Taiwan?". VOA. 28 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Taiwan Strait median line coordinates revealed | Taiwan News | 2019-07-30 17:15:00". Taiwan News. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  19. ^ a b Liu, J. P.; Liu, C. S.; Xu, K. H.; Milliman, J. D.; Chiu, J. K.; Kao, S. J.; Lin, S. W. (20 December 2008). "Flux and fate of small mountainous rivers derived sediments into the Taiwan Strait". Marine Geology. 256 (1): 65–76. Bibcode:2008MGeol.256...65L. doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2008.09.007. ISSN 0025-3227.
  20. ^ "In-Flight Breakup Over the Taiwan Strait Northeast of Makung, Penghu Island, China Airlines Flight CI611, Boeing 747-200, B-18255, May 25, 2002" (PDF). Aviation Occurrence Report. 1 (ASC-AOR-05-02-001). Taipei, Taiwan: Aviation Safety Council. 25 February 2005. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  21. ^ China says U.S. warship sailing in Taiwan Strait 'provocative'. Reuters. 26 February 2022. Accessed 26 February 2022. Archive.
  22. ^ Chen, Jinhai; Lu, Feng; Li, Mingxiao; Huang, Pengfei; Liu, Xiliang; Mei, Qiang (2016), Tan, Ying; Shi, Yuhui (eds.), "Optimization on Arrangement of Precaution Areas Serving for Ships' Routeing in the Taiwan Strait Based on Massive AIS Data", Data Mining and Big Data, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 9714, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 123–133, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-40973-3_12, ISBN 978-3-319-40972-6, retrieved 20 November 2021
  23. ^ Hsin-po, Huang; Xie, Dennis (9 November 2020). "Coast guard should benefit from fines on intruders: lawmakers". www.taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  24. ^ "Greater Changhua Offshore Wind Farms". www.power-technology.com. Power Technology. Retrieved 10 November 2020.