Former Taiwan President Seeks Common Ground with China

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.11 - 2024 9:17 AM CET

Photo: jamesonwu1972 /
Photo: jamesonwu1972 /
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou.

Trending Now

Taiwan and China can resolve their differences peacefully, former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou stated on Thursday after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Historic Engagement and Cultural Ties

Ma Ying-jeou, who served from 2008 to 2016, became the first former or sitting Taiwanese leader to visit China last year.

The meeting with Xi, their second encounter following a 2015 summit in Singapore, revisited themes of shared history and culture that both leaders believe could pave the way for peaceful negotiations. Upon returning from Beijing, Ma expressed his hope for young Taiwanese to acknowledge the historical and cultural connections with China.

"More importantly, the Chinese on both sides of the Strait can handle disputes peacefully," he added, as reported by Reuters.

Complex Political Landscape

China, asserting its claims over democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory, has increased military and political pressure. Both governments do not recognize each other.

Accompanied by a group of students, Ma's visit aimed to show the youth that people on either side of the strait are "descendants of the Yan and Yellow Emperors," implying a shared ancestry.

In a notable slip-up, Ma mentioned that people on both sides belong to "the Republic of China" before correcting himself to say "the Chinese people," a term referring to those ethnically or culturally Chinese.

Controversial Wording

This mistake, also made during his meeting with Xi, was broadcasted on Taiwanese television.

The mention is sensitive due to the history of the Republic of China government retreating to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war, and the People's Republic of China's non-recognition of Taiwan's official name.

When questioned if the wording was intentional, Ma laughed but did not respond.

Taiwan's government rebuffs Beijing's sovereignty claims, stating that the People's Republic of China has never governed the island and that only Taiwanese people can determine their future.

China insists on recognizing that both China and Taiwan are part of "one China" as a precondition for dialogue, which Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has rejected.

Ma is a senior member of the Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan's main opposition party, which advocates for closer ties and dialogue with China while denying any pro-Beijing stance, despite losing the presidential election for the third consecutive time in January. He currently holds no official party position.

Most Read