Lighthouses of Taiwan: Matsu and Kinmen

In 1949 the collapse of Nationalist forces in mainland China led to a new governmental separation between Taiwan and the mainland, with the Nationalist government (the Republic of China) on Taiwan and the Communist government (the People's Republic of China) on the mainland. This separation continues to the present day. After leaving the mainland Nationalist forces remained in occupation of two groups of strategically placed islands close to the mainland coast opposite Taiwan. The Matsu Islands lie off the mainland port of Fuzhou and the Kinmen Islands lie off the port of Xiamen (formerly called Amoy). Kinmen is called Jīnmén on the mainland and Westerners formerly knew it as Quemoy.

Although Matsu and Kinmen continue to be governed from Taiwan, these islands historically were part of the mainland province of Fujian (Fukien) and not part of Taiwan province. For many years the islands were on the front lines of the Cold War, but tensions have relaxed. Outside the military bases Matsu and Kinmen are open to tourism, including tourists from the mainland.

Historically lighthouses in Taiwan were operated by the Department of Maritime Affairs within the Directorate General of Customs. Beginning 1 January 2013 they are now managed by the Maritime and Port Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, which has announced plans to restore and develop the light stations as tourist attractions.

In Chinese, jiao or chiao is a cape, dao, tao, yu, or hsu is an island, and kang is a harbor. Due to competing systems for transliterating Chinese into Latin characters, there are always several possible spellings for the names of places in China. In 2009, the Republic of China government adopted the Pinyin system also used in the People's Republic, so the two governments are no longer in disagreement on this matter. However, older spellings from other systems remain in common use.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume P of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Maritime and Port Bureau - Lighthouses
Interactive map leads to pages for the individual lighthouse. A slow-loading site.
Lighthouses in Taiwan
Wikipedia checklist, useful for its Pinyin spellings.
Lighthouses in Taiwan
Hosted by the National Kaohsiung University of Applied Science (NKUAS), this page links to individual pages on all the major lighthouses of Taiwan. Text in Chinese.
Lighthouses in Taiwan
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
Online List of Lights - China
Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Leuchttürme auf Briefmarken
Postage stamp images posted by Klaus Huelse.

Dongyin Light, Matsu, April 2016
Panoramio Creative Commons photo by Chen Huang

Matsu Islands (Lienchiang County) Lighthouses
*** Dongyin (Tungyin Tao, Dongyong)
1902. Reactivated (inactive 1958-1989); focal plane 98 m (320 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 14 m (46 ft) round cylindrical brick tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern dome black. This is a staffed station. Chen Huang's photo is above, Yueh Hua Lee has an excellent photo, Guo Xinyou has a good photo, Wikimedia has a photo by Ying-lung Lu, NKUAS has a page for the lighthouse, Jung Yi Hung has a closeup street view, and Google has an indistinct satellite view of the station. This historic lighthouse was built by British engineers for the Chinese Imperial government. It was repaired after being badly damaged by Typhoon Alice in September 1967. The fog signal was deactivated in 2008. In 2016 the lighthouse was declared a national historical monument. The lighthouse is built on a cliff and is accessed by a steep staircase descending from the keeper's house. Dongyin is the northeasternmost island of the Matsu group, located about 50 km (30 mi) from the Chinese mainland. The island is accessible by air and by ferry from Keelung; it has a permanent population of about 1300. Located on the northeastern tip of the island. Site open, tower open daily except Mondays year round. ARLHS TAI-034; Admiralty P3644; NGA 19090.
*** Dongju (Dongjyu, Tungchu Tao, Dongquan)
1872. Active; focal plane 78 m (256 ft); three white flashes, in a 1+2 pattern, every 20 s. 19.5 m (64 ft) round cylindrical granite tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern dome black. 2nd order clamshell Fresnel lens in use. This is a staffed station. WunKai Wang's photo is at right, NKUAS also has a page, Huelse has a postage stamp image, Yang Changxun has a street view, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Amy Chang's June 2007 photo shows the lighthouse surrounded by scaffolding, probably for repainting. Built by British engineers Robert Hart and David M. Henderson, this classic lighthouse guided ships to Fuzhou, one of the ports opened to Western trade following the end of the Second Opium War in 1860. Dongju (Dongjyu) lies about 25 km (15 mi) off the entrance to Fuzhou. The island has a permanent population of about 200 and is accessible several times a day by passenger ferry from the larger island of Nangan. However, there are no overnight accommodations for visitors and much of the island is occupied by military installations. Located on the northeastern point of the island, which is also the highest point. Site open, tower open daily except Mondays year round. ARLHS TAI-032; Admiralty P3634; NGA 19132.
Dongjiyu Light
Dongju (Dongjyu) Light, Matsu, May 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by WunKai Wang

Kinmen (Chinmen, Quemoy) Islands (Kinmen County) Lighthouses
Note: The two lighthouse islands of Beiding and Dongding were demilitarized in 2004, although Wuqiu continues to be a military base.
Wuqiu (Wuciou, Wuchiu, Wuchio Yu, Wuchin Hsu, Ockseu)
1874. Reactivated (inactive 1951-2017); focal plane 87 m (285 ft); white flash every 5 s. 19.5 m (64 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted black. This is a staffed station. A 2018 photo is available, Xu Chaoming has a distant view, and Google has a satellite view. Damaged during the revolutionary war in 1948, this lighthouse was inactive for many years even though it was never dropped from the international lists. It was reactivated in a ceremony on 23 July 2017 and has been nominated for recognition as a national historic site. Wuqiu (Wuchiu) is one of two small islands about 25 km (15 mi) off the mainland coast roughly halfway between Matsu and Kinmen. The island has about 400 residents, but much of it is heavily fortified. The lighthouse is on the highest point of the island. Site and tower closed (military area). ARLHS TAI-035; Admiralty P3628; NGA 19124.
Beiding (Peiting Yu, Peiting Tao)
1882. Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 18 m (56 ft) round brick tower with gallery, painted white. This is a staffed station, crews serving 15 day shifts. A Taipei Times article has a photo and some information about the station, and Google has a satellite view. The lantern was destroyed in World War II and replaced with a short skeletal tower in 1947. The lighthouse was renovated and reactivated in 1986. Beiding is a small island about 3 km (2 mi) off the eastern tip of Kinmen. Accessible only by boat; there may be distant views from the mainland of Kinmen. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAI-021; Admiralty P3620; NGA 19176.
Dongding (Tungting Tao, Tungting Hsu, Chapel Island)
1871. Active; focal plane 69 m (226 ft); white flash every 10 s. 19 m (62 ft) round brick tower with lantern and gallery, painted black. This is a staffed station. NKUAS has a page for the lighthouse and Google has an indistinct satellite view. The lighthouse survived World War II, but it had to be repaired in 1964 after being damaged by artillery bombardment from the mainland. Dongding is a small island about 13 km (8 mi) off the mainland coast and 25 km (15 mi) south southwest of Kinmen. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAI-033; Admiralty P3606; NGA 19196.

Wuciou Light, Kinmen, May 2009
anonymous Panoramio Creative Commons photo (no longer online)

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Fuzhou | East: Southwestern Taiwan | South: Xiamen | West: Central Fujian

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Posted September 11, 2007. Checked and revised October 8, 2018. Lighthouses: 5. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.