On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China . Chiang Kai-shek , 600,000 Nationalist troops, and about two million Nationalist-sympathizer refugees retreated to the island of Taiwan . Mao's mission was to essentially evolve the culture and politics of China, and to restore "power and prestige."  After that, resistance to the Communists on the mainland was substantial but scattered, such as in the far south. An attempt to take the Nationalist-controlled island of Kinmen was thwarted in the Battle of Kuningtou . In December 1949 Chiang proclaimed Taipei, Taiwan the temporary capital of the Republic, and continued to assert his government as the sole legitimate authority of all China, while the PRC government continued to call for the unification of all China. The last direct fighting between Nationalist and Communist forces ended with the communist capture of Hainan Island in May 1950, though shelling and guerrilla raids continued for a number of years. In June 1950, the outbreak of the Korean War led the American government to place the United States Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan Strait to prevent either side from attacking the other.