Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will visit China this month in what will be the first-ever visit to the communist country by a current or retired Taiwanese president.
The 10-day trip, which begins on March 27, will highlight the stark differences between Taiwan’s two main political parties over its relationship with China, as they prepare to campaign for January’s presidential and legislative elections. next.
Ma’s visit to China will take place around the same time as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is due to visit the United States, Taiwan’s sole guarantor of security.
Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party sees Taiwan as an independent country, while Ma’s opposition, the China-based Kuomintang, sees Taiwan as part of a Chinese nation, but not the People’s Republic of China.
China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and threatens to attack if Taipei refuses to submit to its control indefinitely, has been threatening the country almost daily with air and naval maneuvers in its vicinity since the landslide 2019 re-election of Tsai, with whom Beijing refuses to engage. Meanwhile, China’s ruling Communist Party is seeking dialogue with the KMT.
Beijing was expected to make a big push for talks with the KMT this year ahead of next January’s elections while showing a cold shoulder to Tsai, said Chao Chun-shan, an expert on the other side. of the Straits who has advised the last four presidents of Taiwan. including Tsai and Ma on Chinese politics.
“There will be a push for a big dialogue this year, but after the elections there will be a big change,” said Chao, who met Taiwan’s top Chinese politicians during a trip to Beijing with Vice. -KMT Chairman Andrew Hsia last month.
“If the DPP wins, it will pressure Taiwan to move towards unification with military threats. If the KMT wins, it will push Taiwan to move towards unification through negotiation,” he said.
Ma oversaw a detente with Beijing during his two consecutive presidential terms from 2008 to 2016, mainly because he accepted the formula that Taiwan was part of China, although the concept of the two parts of that China differs. He cut defense spending and took a low-key approach to foreign relations and sovereignty.
His government concluded a bilateral trade agreement with China and negotiated a second agreement for trade in services. But his presidency has disappointed China because Ma’s trade deals have sparked mass protests and widespread pushback against engagement with Beijing. He met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Singapore in November 2015, the first-ever meeting between a Taiwanese and Chinese president and the first such meeting between the KMT and Chinese Communist Party leaders since the end of the civil war. two parties fought in China until 1949.