Taiwan ex-president in China to promote peace

Ma Ying-jeou's "journey of peace" aims to calm cross-strait tensions. He is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, though the meeting has yet to be confirmed

Ma Ying-jeou described his trip to China as a "journey of peace" (photo: DW)
Ma Ying-jeou described his trip to China as a "journey of peace" (photo: DW)


Taiwan's former president Ma Ying-jeou arrived China on Monday for an 11-day trip he called a "journey of peace," as he aims to cool cross-strait tensions.

Ma, who was president from 2008 to 2016, is now a senior member of Taiwan's main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT). The party, which strongly denies being pro-Beijing, advocates close ties with China.

During Ma's presidency, cross-strait ties improved, and the former president met Chinese President Xi Jinping at a Singapore summit in 2015.

Will Ma and Xi meet again?

Chinese officials did not comment on Taiwanese media reports suggesting Ma might meet Xi.

Hsiao Hsu-tsen, the director of the Ma Ying-jeou Culture and Education Foundation, said Ma would certainly like to meet his "old friend."

"However, we are, after all, guests. We will leave the arrangement to the mainland side," Hsiao told reporters at the airport without giving a clear answer.

Three sources familiar with Ma's trip told the Reuters news agency the meeting was expected to take place in Beijing next Monday..

What else do we know about Ma's trip?

Ma also told reporters prior to his departure his trip was a "journey of peace and a journey of friendship."

"I hope that when the situation across the Taiwan Strait is tense, we can convey the sentiments of the Taiwanese people that they love peace, hope for cross-strait exchanges and hope to avoid war," he said.

The former president, who is leading a delegation of 20 Taiwanese students, also said he aimed to promote youth exchanges.

A handful of protesters gathered outside the airport, urging Ma "not to sell out Taiwan."

China-Taiwan tensions

The former president was the first Taiwanese leader to visit China last year, in a bid to improve the "cross-strait atmosphere."

Ma argued on Monday that the trip "proved that this method is feasible and we can resolve cross-strait confrontation through building friendship between young people on both sides."

China considers Taiwan part of its own territory and has regularly carried out military drills around the self-ruled island. It has not discounted using force to take control of the territory.

Tensions have surged since Tsai Ing-wen, who rejects Beijing's claim to the island, succeeded Ma in 2016. Last January, Tsai's deputy Lai Ching-te was elected to succeed her, further fueling tensions with Taiwan's western neighbor.

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Published: 01 Apr 2024, 3:33 PM