Project National Glory

Project Guoguang (Chinese: 國光計劃; pinyin: Guóguāng Jìhuà; Wade–Giles: Kuo2 Kuang Chi4 Hua4; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kok-kong Kè-e̍k; Pha̍k-fa-sṳ: Kwet-kwong Kè-va̍k; lit. 'Project National Glory') was an attempt by the Republic of China (ROC), based in Taiwan, to reconquer mainland China from the People's Republic of China (PRC) by large scale invasion. It was the most elaborate of the ROCs plans or studies to invade the mainland after 1949. Guoguang was initiated in 1961 in response to events involving the PRC, particularly the Great Leap Forward, the Sino-Soviet split, and the development of nuclear weapons. Guoguang was never executed; it required more troops and material than the ROC could muster, and it lacked support from the United States. The use of a large scale invasion as the initial stage of reunification was effectively abandoned after 1966, although the Guoguang planning organization was not abolished until 1972. The ROC did not abandon the policy of using force for reunification until 1990.

Project National Glory
Planned byChiang Kai-shek
Commanded byChiang Kai-shek
ObjectiveReconquer mainland China from the People's Republic of China
Date1 April 1961 – 20 July 1972
Executed byRepublic of China Armed Forces
Casualties>300 killed
Project National Glory
Traditional Chinese國光計劃
Simplified Chinese国光计划


In 1949, the ROC retreated from the mainland to Taiwan.[1] Despite the defeat, Chiang Kai-shek remained committed to recovering the mainland[2][3][1] The ROC took steps to stabilize its position and prepare for the future war.[4] The armed forces (ROCAF) undertook reforms. The conscription system was modified to produce a reserve.[5][4] Former Japanese soldiers, the White Group, contributed to planning and personnel training. The provision of military aid from the US was formalized with the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty. By the end of the 1950s, the ROCAF was an effective defensive force.[6][5] General indoctrination and anti-PRC propaganda was widespread.[6] The sinicization of the native Taiwanese population drew special attention to support conscription and mobilization.[7] In March 1956, plans envisioned the mobilization of 730,000 men from the ages of 21 to 35.[8]

The ROC also planned and sought opportunities to attack the PRC.[9][6] From 1951 to 1954, the ROC's irregular Anti-Communist Salvation Army — trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency — raided the PRC coast from ROC-controlled islands near the mainland.[6] The ROC's offer to attack the PRC during the Korean War — while the PRC's attention was diverted — was declined by the US.[5] Other options that were considered were a regional campaign on the PRC-Myanmar border,[9] and guerrilla involvement in the Vietnam War as a supporting diversion for a ROC invasion across the Taiwan Strait.[5]

By 1961, the ROC assessed that conditions were becoming favorable. Project Guoguang later identified that the ideal time to attack was when the PRC was embroiled in political strife, or at war with rebels or neighbouring countries.[10] The PRC was suffering internal unrest from the Great Leap Forward[11][12] and the ongoing Sino-Soviet split was also considered to be advantageous.[5]

Invasion planning and postponementEdit

Project Guoguang was established on 1 April 1961.[11][12] The ROCAF created a staff, the Guoguang Operation Office,[9] that was the primary supervisory body for invasion planning and preparations;[13] it was led by a lieutenant general and reported directly to Chiang Kai-shek.[9] The government also prepared in the first half of 1962; it created organizations for wartime mobilization and administration, the Special Defence Budget, and a new tax — the Special Defence Levy — that would be collected until June 1963. These government developments were noticed by foreign observers.[10] ROC agents and paramilitary forces along the coast shifted from gathering intelligence to probing attacks in 1962 and 1963.[14] In April 1964, Chiang Kai-shek ordered[15] the construction of a headquarters, including air raid shelters, behind his residence at Cihu.[16]

The war plan was divided into multiple phases, with Phase I being the initial surprise amphibious assault of Xiamen in Fujian province. The ROC island of Jinmen would be the forward operating base. PRC reinforcements were expected to arrive five days before the landing, so any landing would meet an immediate counterattack. It was estimated the landing would require 270,000 troops — about a third of mobilized strength — and suffer 50,000 casualties.[10][17] After the landing, the ROC would advance by covertly fomenting, or taking advantage of, unrest in the PRC. However, this was too vague for planning purposes, and so detailed planning did not proceed beyond Phase I.[10] Planners recognized that even Phase I was a difficult proposition; it stretched available manpower and exceeded available sea and airlift for troops and logistics.[17]

The ROC also sought US support as a necessary precondition for war,[10] and which could make up for the transport[12] and logistics shortfalls.[17] However, the US opposed the resumption of warfare in China; it communicated this through diplomatic channels,[10][12] and by overtly surveilling the ROC's preparations through the Military Assistance Advisory Group.[10] This prompted the ROC to put the invasion on hold.[17]

Second attemptEdit

Chiang Kai-shek decided to proceed without US approval following the PRC's first successful nuclear weapon test in October 1964; on 17 June 1965, he notified officers at a meeting at the ROC Military Academy that the invasion was imminent.[14] A final decision was to be made on 20 July. Mobilized officers, and personnel deployed to Jinmen, were required to have a will and testament as part of preparations.[8] Ultimately, no invasion was launched[8] but the year was marred by accidents and defeats.

On 24 June, an amphibious landing exercise[14] in southern Taiwan[15] caused the deaths of over ten soldiers when strong waves overturned five amphibious assault vehicles.[14]

On 6 August, two ROC Navy (ROCN) warships carrying troops to conduct a reconnaissance of the mainland were intercepted and sunk by People's Liberation Army Navy torpedo boats near Dongshan Island, Fujian; 200 ROC personnel were killed.[15][14] The warships lacked air support; the ROC Air Force had been unaware of the mission due to a communication error.[14]

In November, the ROCN warships Shan Hai and Lin Huai were intercepted by the PLAN while en route the islands of Magong and Wuqiu to pick up wounded troops. Lin Huai was sunk by two torpedoes, and 90 ROC personnel were killed.[15]

Further proposals to the USEdit

In September 1965, the ROC offered to aid the US in the Vietnam War by invading Guangdong province. The offer was rejected as the US was attempting to end the war and did not want to expand the conflict.[12]

The start of the PRC's Cultural Revolution in 1966 prompted the ROC to review its plans in anticipation of exploiting unrest on the mainland. In 1967, Chiang Kai-shek was confident that the instability overtaking the PRC — including in the government and military — would not be short-lived. The ROC again — and for the last time — sought US aid for an invasion; the request was rejected.[18]

The Guoguang Operation Office was renamed as the Operation Planning Office in 1966.[13]

Reassessing strategyEdit

The acceptance of US non-involvement and the replacement of US military aid by Foreign Military Sales forced the ROC to reassess its strategy. Economic development — upon which military preparedness would depend — now had to be considered.[19] Chiang Ching-kuo believed that success required a popular and armed anti-Communist revolution ("Hungary-style") in the PRC — which an ROC invasion could then support — and significant changes to the international environment.[18][20] The new strategy was to build an economy to support offensive operations while encouraging revolution in the PRC with psychological warfare and propaganda.[19] Initially, the ROCAF studied the "Wang-shih" plan which used special forces to infiltrate the PRC and incite rebellion.[18][20] In response to the new strategy, the ROCAF adopted the defensive "Ku-an" plan while offensive preparations continued.[19]

Chiang Ching-kuo's control over policy began to increase in 1969. He was appointed as Vice Premier in July 1969,[19][13] and then Premier on 1 June 1972. Crucially, Chiang Kai-shek suffered a road accident in September 1969[19] after which he gradually receded from politics as his health declined.[13] Between 1969 and 1972, the international position of the ROC changed radically due to the normalization of relations between the US and the PRC. The Nixon Doctrine[19][21] and announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Taiwan in the Shanghai Communiqué[13] demanded that the ROC pay more attention to defense.[22] Chiang Ching-kuo appreciated this, although he continued to support — at least in principle — an eventual offensive.[21][23]

For a time, the ROC may have abandoned the expectation of mounting a large scale attack on the PRC; the Operation Planning Office was abolished on 20 July 1972. Attention shifted to the "Wang-shih" plan,[13] which was revised in 1976 on the unrealized possibility of exploiting the death of Mao Zedong.[23] However, in 1987 the nominally defensive "Ku-an" plan gained an — ultimately incomplete — section pertaining to attacking the mainland based on the strategic concept that "the principal battlefield is the mainland, and the secondary battlefield is Taiwan."[24] The ROCAF remained organized as an offensive force,[25] and paratroops were trained to support an offensive.[24]


Lee Teng-hui served as acting President after Chiang Ching-kuo's death in 1988,[24] then formally assumed that office in 1990. He immediately abandoned the policy of pursuing the reunification of China through force,[25] which allowed the ROCAF to adopt a fully defensive posture starting in 1991.[26]

In April 2009 it was announced that secret documentation for Project Guoguang would be declassified and displayed at the Cihu Mausoleum starting in May 2009.[15][16]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b Igarashi (2021): page 137
  2. ^ Cheng (2018): page 58
  3. ^ Igarashi (2021): page 136
  4. ^ a b Cheng (2018): page 68
  5. ^ a b c d e Cheng (2018): page 67
  6. ^ a b c d Cheng (2018): page 66
  7. ^ Cheng (2018): page 696
  8. ^ a b c Cheng (2018): page 73
  9. ^ a b c d Cheng (2018): page 65
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Cheng (2018): page 71
  11. ^ a b Cheng (2018): page 70
  12. ^ a b c d e Igarashi (2021): page 138
  13. ^ a b c d e f Igarashi (2021): page 144
  14. ^ a b c d e f Cheung, Han (17 November 2019). "Taiwan in Time: Spies, guerillas and the final counterattack". Taipei Times. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d e Chung, Lawrence (22 April 2009). "Details of Chiang Kai-shek's attempts to recapture mainland to be made public". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  16. ^ a b Moore, Malcolm (22 April 2009). "Taiwan 'invaded' China, declassified papers show". Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  17. ^ a b c d Cheng (2018): page 72
  18. ^ a b c Igarashi (2021): page 139
  19. ^ a b c d e f Igarashi (2021): page 141
  20. ^ a b Igarashi (2021): page 140
  21. ^ a b Igarashi (2021): page 142
  22. ^ Igarashi (2021): page 145
  23. ^ a b Igarashi (2021): page 146
  24. ^ a b c Igarashi (2021): page 149
  25. ^ a b Igarashi (2021): page 150
  26. ^ Igarashi (2021): page 152