Former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou plans landmark visit to China


Taipei, March 20, (dpa/GNA) – Former Taiwan president, Ma Ying-jeou, will travel to China next week, becoming the first former or current Taiwanese leader to visit China.

Ma’s trip was announced amid increased tensions between China and the self-governing island. Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the democratic island part of its territory.

Announcing the visit, Hsiao Hsu-tsen, director of the Ma Ying-jeou Culture and Education Foundation, told a news conference on Monday there were no plans for Ma to visit Beijing.

Ma will lead a delegation of former government officials and students, and visit several Chinese cities, including Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha, Chongqing, and Shanghai.

He would also worship his ancestors in Hunan Province during the upcoming Tomb Sweeping Festival.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Monday, criticized Ma’s plans and said the move failed to respect Taiwan’s public will and national interests.

Taiwan’s presidential office said in a statement Monday that Ma should not only behave in accordance with Taiwan’s national interests, but also reflect the Taiwanese people’s sentiments during the trip.

Ma, of the opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), held the leadership in Taiwan from 2008 to 2016. Under his administration, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait enjoyed relatively smooth relations since 1949, when the KMT fled to Tiwan after losing the Chinese civil war.

In late 2015, Ma met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in a landmark meeting.

China cut off all communication with Taiwan’s leadership in June 2016, one month after Tsai Ing-wen of DPP took office.

Ma is due to travel to China on March 27 for the 12-day trip.



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