TAIPEI, Taiwan. March 20th, 2023. The former President of Taiwan, Ma Yingjeou is planning to visit China for a twelve-day tour along with 30 Taiwanese university students in what is officially a sort-of social visit.
However because he is the first former head-of-state to visit the mainland since 1949, and with tensions as high as they’ve ever been between Taipei and Beijing, the trip has political overtones.
Nevertheless, media reports say that neither foreign ministry has been informed of a trip to Beijing.
Instead, Ma plans to visit Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha, Chongqing, and Shanghai, in part to pay respects to the tombs of his ancestors for Tomb Sweeping Day (April 4th), and visit a number of historic memorials, including the mausoleum of Sun Yatsen, the founder of the Chinese Republic.
“We also hope that Ma, as a former commander in chief of Taiwan, acts in a manner that aligns with national interests and does not hurt the feelings of Taiwanese,” said Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yuchan. “He should seek to convey the values of Taiwan’s liberal democracy and reiterate that cross-strait exchanges should proceed in an equal and dignified manner…”
Ma represents the Kuomintang party, (KMT) which lost against Chairman Mao and the communists in the Chinese Civil War in 1949. In reality however, among Taiwanese politics, it’s the KMT that believes there is the most to be gained from friendship and cooperation with the mainland.
Under Ma’s presidency, the largest step towards lasting peace in the 21st century was taken when he signed an agreement with Beijing that stated China and Taiwan were a single nation with a single people and history, but that as political entities, Taipei and Beijing disagreed on what China “is”.
Naturally for this reason, his opponents in the Democratic People’s Power party, (DPP) who currently hold the executive, criticized the trip as a form of kowtowing.
The planned visit, slated to begin on March 27th, comes about a month after KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia returned from a 10-day trip to China where he and his delegation spoke with high-ranking officials in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) about cross-strait relations.
Both trips come after a 12-month period in which Beijing has conducted numerous war games and exercises in the South China Sea that simulate an invasion of Taiwan, and a little more than a year after another superpower, Russia, invaded their southern neighbor to prevent it from being consumed by Western influence.