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Memorial service held to commemorate historic battle with China

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A memorial service was held Saturday in outlying Kinmen County to mark the 56th anniversary of the start of an artillery battle between Taiwan and China.

Kinmen Magistrate Li Wo-shih presented flowers and read a funeral oration at the ceremony.

Without the efforts of the fallen, Kinmen would not be enjoying the the prosperity it sees now, Li said, thanking those who gave their lives for their sacrifice.

During the battle that began Aug. 23, 1958, Chinese troops fired more than 470,000 shells at Kinmen over a period of 44 days, killing or injuring thousands of soldiers and civilians.

Around 200 Chinese soldiers were also killed during the exchange of of fire that would later become known as the 823 Artillery Bombardment.

The day was also marked by a 3.8-kilometer road run in Kinmen.

It is regarded as a significant battle that helped safeguard the Republic of China government on Taiwan.

The Kuomintang-led government relocated to Taiwan proper in 1949 after losing a civil war in China to communist forces. From 1949 until the late 1970s, Kinmen — only 10 kilometers from Xiamen Harbor in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian — was on the frontline of intermittent conflict across the Taiwan Strait.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have eased since President Ma Ying- jeou first took office in May 2008. But China, which still considers Taiwan as part of its territory, has not renounced the use of force to achieve unification with Taiwan.

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Veterans observe a moment of silence marking the 56th anniversary of the “823 Artillery Battle” on the Kinmen islands yesterday. The battle, which occurred in 1956, was one of the major episodes in Taiwan's defense against the Chinese communists' invasion. (CNA)

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