Pratas Island in the South China Sea (SCS) is strategically located near major shipping routes, but its history remains largely unexplored. Occupied by the Republic of China (ROC) since 1946, it faced potential threats from the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) simulated military drills in 2020, raising fears of a US-PRC conflict and spotlighting the island’s significance. This article delves into Pratas’ history, using new sources from the UK National Archives and CIA Archives. It highlights the island’s role from the end of WWII in Asia in 1946 to the two Taiwan Strait crises in the 1950s. The island’s geopolitical significance in the 1950s was influenced by strategic factors, keeping it relatively unnoticed until its integration into the Cold War dynamics of East Asia by 1958, a position it maintained until 2020.
Pratas, China, Cold War in East Asia, Taiwan strait crises, Geopolitics