Former Taiwanese president Ma to visit China from March 27

Taiwan’s Former President Ma Ying-jeou will visit China later this month, said his office on Sunday (March 19). The move will mark the first time that a former or current Taiwanese leader has visited since the defeated Republic of China government fled to the island in 1949. Notably, the Republic of China remains Taiwan’s official name. 

The visit which will take place between March 27 and April 7 also comes amid a rise in tensions between Beijing and Taipei. Ma who is also a senior member of Kuomintang (KMT) the opposition party in Taiwan has traditionally favoured China but has vehemently denied being ‘pro-Beijing’. 

Notably, Ma also held a landmark meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in late 2015 shortly before incumbent Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was elected. This also comes amid KMT seemingly increasing its engagement with China since both Beijing and Taipei have eased Covid-related restrictions. 

Last month, the deputy chairman of the opposition party, Andrew Hsia visited Beijing and met senior Communist Party leader Wang Huning. The visit garnered significant criticism from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which accused KMT of being too close to Beijing and wanting to sell out Taiwan. 

During his visit, Ma will visit five cities Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha, Chongqing and Shanghai, said his office, as per Reuters. The former Taiwanese president will also reportedly meet students and visit sites connected to World War II, the second Sino-Japanese War, and the 1911 revolution which overthrew the last Chinese emperor and led to the beginning of the Republic of China, said Ma’s office. 

However, it is not clear if the former Taiwanese president will meet any Chinese officials or leaders including Xi. KMT has previously argued that it is important to keep open communication with China given the current tensions. 

Beijing has declined to hold talks with Tsai accusing her of being a “separatist”. Tsai who was first elected president of Taiwan in 2016 has previously said that only Taiwan’s people can decide their future and rejected China’s claim on Taipei. 

This comes as Beijing continues to maintain its military and political pressure for democratically-elected Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty and reiterated calls for reunification with the self-governing island.


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