While the Kinmen Islands once served as a natural barrier to invasion, Beijing can now easily bypass them with its superpower armoury of missiles, jets and aircraft carriers.

Car rental worker Yang believes “the disparity in military strength is far too great”, leaving Taiwan with little hope of beating back a Chinese onslaught, especially given Kinmen’s size and proximity to the mainland.

“I would not want to go to the battlefield since there would be no chance of winning,” he said.

James Chen, an 18-year-old student who is one of the few of his age not to have left to study or work in Taiwan’s cities, said fighting should be left to professional soldiers.

“I think there is a 50-50 chance of China using force against Taiwan, but we have no control over China, we should just be ourselves.”

That means life is very much carrying on as normal in Kinmen.

Residents are not rushing for the bunkers to hide or supermarkets to stockpile, but rather singing karaoke at home and dining out with friends.

As 73-year-old Cheng Hsiu-hua played card games with her neighbours outside their homes in one of Kinmen’s quiet streets, she brushed off the possibility of Chinese troops one day landing on their shores.

“No, we are not afraid. They (Chinese troops) won’t come over here,” she said.

If Beijing did bring arms to bear, the elderly Yang says he would rather accept peaceful reunification than conflict.

So he offers a message to the Chinese government – one learned from the legacy of the bombardment he saw with his own eyes decades ago.

“Don’t go to war. War brings suffering and misery,” he said.

“There will be death on both sides.”

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