Former Taiwanese President Visits China: “We are all Chinese”
NANJING, JIANGSU PROVINCE: People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are ethnically Chinese and share the same ancestry, former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said Tuesday (March 28) as he began a historic visit to China. .
Ma, who ruled from 2008 to 2016, is the first former and incumbent Taiwanese president to visit China since the defeated ROC government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after a civil war with the Communist Party.
He is visiting amid rising tensions as China uses political and military means to pressure democratically governed Taiwan into accepting Chinese sovereignty.
Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party questioned the reason for his visit shortly after Beijing left the island Sunday, taking away another Taiwanese diplomatic ally, Honduras, and establishing official diplomatic ties with just 13 countries.
In a commentary from the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing at Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, where Sun Yat-sen, who overthrew the last Chinese emperor and ushered in a republic in 1911, was buried, Ma praised Sun Yat-sen’s contributions.
“People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese, both descended from the Yan Dynasty and the Emperor,” Ma said in a commentary provided by his office.
Instead of mentioning nationality, Ma used a Chinese expression meaning Chinese ethnicity. Descendants of Emperor Yan is an expression referring to a common ancestor of the Chinese people.
Polls show that most Taiwanese no longer identify as Chinese.
Sun is officially considered the father of the Republic of China, which still remains the official name of Taiwan.
Sun Yang is also praised by the Communist Party for overthrowing the Qing Dynasty, but the Beijing and Taipei governments do not recognize each other.
Ma’s visit is part of an outreach effort by Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), to China to defuse tensions. The KMT traditionally favors close ties with China, but strongly disavows pro-Beijing factions.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly offered to hold talks with China, but has been rejected because China considers her a separatist. She says that only Taiwanese people can decide their future.
Ma, a senior KMT official, said he hoped for peace.
He said, “I sincerely hope that both sides will work together to pursue peace, avoid war, and strive for China’s revival,” again using an expression referring to the Chinese as a nation rather than a nationality. “This is the inevitable responsibility of the Chinese on both sides of the strait, and we must work hard.”
Jack Ma is not scheduled to meet with senior Chinese leaders on this trip. He and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Singapore in 2015.