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Chen Feifei, a former front-line broadcaster, meets with KMT veteran Chen Ching-lung days before the 40th anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan. JIANG KEHONG/XINHUA

Chen Feifei was famous for her radio shows, which were beamed to soldiers based in Taiwan. Zhang Yizhi, Xu Xueyi and Fu Min report for Xinhua.

Memories came flooding back when Chen Feifei met Chen Ching-lung in Xiamen, in the eastern province of Fujian, days before the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan

The fraternal greeting to people on the island was issued by the Standing Committee of the National People"s Congress in 1979.

Born in Quanzhou, close to Xiamen, Chen Feifei served in the art troupe of the People"s Liberation Army before she was recruited as an announcer for one of the front-line radio stations on the coast of Xiamen in 1955.

Her audience consisted of soldiers and followers of the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, on Jinmen, a small island affiliated to Taiwan but close to the Chinese mainland.

The KMT fled to Taiwan after losing the civil war (1945-49), beginning a decadeslong military standoff with the mainland. Between the 1950s and late "70s, artillery shells flew across the Taiwan Straits from time to time, making the front-line islands headline news.

In 1953, the two sides began setting up broadcasting stations on the coasts of Xiamen and Jinmen, waging "sonic warfare", and blaring harsh comments at each other as the shells flew.

Chen Feifei, now 84, clearly remembers her days at the broadcasting station.

"A shell hit the station at midnight while I was broadcasting. Fortunately, the building"s 2-centimeter-thick walls absorbed the impact. Nobody in the bunker was hurt, but the window was riddled with shrapnel holes, and choking smoke from the blast blew in," she recalled.

As the only female broadcaster at the station, she endured much hardship and braved fires to connect wires frequently downed by KMT shells. For many years, she had to risk her life rushing downhill to use a makeshift toilet.

"In the art troupe, I had a joyous and carefree time, singing and dancing all day long with other girls. I received applause. But at the station, I heard nothing but the sound of myself and loud explosions," she said.

Life on the other side, in Jinmen, wasn"t easy either.

Chen Ching-lung"s father Chen Chao-yi served on the island.