Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou visits China on a historic trip


March 19, 2023 | 3:08 p.m

Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will visit China this month, the office of former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said, marking the first time a former or current Taiwanese leader has visited since the defeated Republic of China government fled to the island in 1949.

The trip comes at a time of heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei as China continues its military and political pressure to try to coax the democratically elected Taiwan into Chinese sovereignty.

Ma, who remains a senior member of Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang, held a historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in late 2015, shortly before the election of Taiwan’s incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen.

Ma’s office said he will visit China from March 27 to April 7 and will go to Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha, Chongqing and Shanghai.

His office said he would meet students and visit sites related to World War II and China’s conflict with Japan, as well as those related to the 1911 revolution that overthrew the last Chinese emperor and ushered in the Republic of China.

The Republic of China remains the official name of Taiwan.

It did not say if he would meet with any Chinese officials or leaders, including if he would meet with Xi.

The KMT, which traditionally favors close ties with China but staunchly denies being pro-Beijing, has stepped up its engagement with China since China and Taiwan eased coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

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Last month, KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia visited Beijing and met with senior Communist Party leader Wang Huning.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took advantage of Hsia’s trip to China to attack the KMT for being too close to Beijing and wanting to sell out Taiwan, and criticized Hsia for “paying court to the Communists”.

The KMT says it is important to keep lines of communication open with China, especially given the current tensions.

China rejected repeated calls from Tsai for talks, believing them to be separatist.

It says that only the people of Taiwan can decide their own future and rejects China’s claims to sovereignty.

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