The 2008 Invasion of Taiwan, code-named Operation Qingdao by China, was a war between China and Taiwan (AKA the Republic of China), with United States involvement, after China launched a military offensive to reunify the island nation with China by force.
In 2006, China began increasing military exercises simulating invasions of Taiwan, and increased intelligence operations inside the country. The United States responded by boosting its forces on the island and sending new arms packages to the Taiwanese military.
In late 2007, the Chinese Navy increased its activities near Taiwanese waters, and began carrying out long-range missile tests over the country. Chinese spy planes and UAVs also began overflying military installations and government institutions.
On 10 December, a Chinese UAV was shot down by a Taiwanese F-16 over downtown Taipei. China responded by scrambling aircraft and launching them to carry out a limited airstrike on Taipei, but they were recalled at the last minute.
China kept prodding Taiwan, hoping to draw a military response to justify intervention. It launched several missiles over the island, but the Taiwanese did not even try to shoot them down, while the United States continued to largely ignore the possibility of military action.
The Guangzhou incident
On 19 January 2008, China deployed the destroyer Guangzhou (168) off the coast of Taipei, just meters outside of the Republic of China's territorial waters. The ship was observed by U.S. satellites and reconnaisance aircraft, and its signals were listened to which was exactly what the Chinese were hoping for. The ship started preparing a missile to fire at Taipei within minutes. The crew were supposed to fire a missile at Taipei at exactly noon, and were told to discuss it openly. China anticipated that the pre-emptive strike on the ship would give it the excuse, and the missile provided was linked to a military base in Beijing, so it could be diverted if the expected counterattack did not materialize.
When the United States informed the Republic of China that a missile was minutes away from being fired, the Taiwanese government dispatched 4 F-16 jets and a submarine. They were instructed to only disable the ship, and to cause the least amount of casualties possible.
Just before noon, the four jets swooped in on the Guangzhou. The planes made two attack runs, strafing the decks and firing rockets at its radar equipment, gun mounts, and the captain's cabin. Within several minutes, the crew had fled into the ship. At this stage, a submarine arrived and fired a single torpedo into the hull, hitting the engine room. Water rushed in, hitting the boiler and creating a massive explosion which completely crippled the ship. A total of 90 sailors were killed and 229 wounded by the attack.
China claimed that it was an "unprovoked, illegal attack against the People's Republic of China", and immediately put in action a pre-conceived invasion plan, massing troops and equipment along the Chinese coast, assembling an amphibious task force. Chinese Navy transports carrying this force were stationed off the Taiwanese coast, while the Chinese Navy declared a naval blockade of the island. U.S. President John McCain then dispatched a carrier battle group towards the island.
China launched its invasion plan, code-named Operation Quingdao, by firing several ship and submarine-launched missiles at military and government targets in Taipei. Their Air Force then launched airstrikes against all Taiwanese airfields, but lost a number of aircraft and was unable to destroy the Taiwanese Air Force.
The next day, 600,000 Chinese troops with air and naval support invaded the Taiwanese island of Quemoy, guarded by 55,000 Taiwanese troops in a series of bunkers, trenches, and tunnels. The Taiwanese resisted fiercely, the island fell after a three-day battle. A subsequent attempt to retake the island by the Republic of China Marine Corps was repulsed. Simultaneously, another 500,000 assaulted the Peng-Hui islands, guarded by 60,000 Taiwanese troops, to guard the Chinese flank. The islands were then taken after three days. To be continued.