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Former Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou visits mainland

By Zhang Yi | | Updated: 2023-03-27 23:50
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Ma Ying-jeou became the first former leader of Taiwan to visit the Chinese mainland when he arrived in Shanghai on Monday for a visit that will last until April 7.

Ma, who is leading a group from Taiwan that includes college students, was greeted by senior officials from the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee at an airport in Shanghai. The group later left for Nanjing, Jiangsu province, according to Xinhua News Agency.

During the trip, Ma will pay tribute to his ancestors ahead of Tomb Sweeping Day, and lead the Taiwan students in strengthening exchanges with their mainland counterparts. The group will also visit other mainland cities including Wuhan, Hubei province, Changsha, Hunan pro­vince, and Chongqing.

In a brief speech at an airport in Taoyuan, Taiwan, before his departure, Ma said that it was his first visit to the mainland, according to Taiwan media.

Ma, a member of the island's opposition Chinese Kuomintang party, said he was responsible for cross-Straits affairs in the island's authorities when he was 37 years old.

"I am 73 years old now, and I have waited 36 years for the opportunity to visit the mainland. It was indeed a long time, but I am glad I can go there," he said.

The mainland welcomes Ma's visit and is willing to provide necessary assistance, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said in a statement earlier this month.

"It's a Chinese tradition to pay respects to ancestors, and it's a common custom of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to do such things around Tomb Sweeping Day," the spokesman said.

Ma Ying-jeou served as the island's leader between 2008 and 2016, during which the two sides of the Taiwan Straits undertook a wide number of exchanges and cooperation on the basis of adhering to the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle, and opposing "Taiwan independence".

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