Ma Ying-jeou likely to meet senior officials during China visit, but unlikely to meet President Xi Jinping

Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou

25th March 2023 – (Taipei) Former President Ma Ying-jeou is set to embark on a trip to China from 27th March to 7th April, with plans to visit at least five cities and hold talks with high-level officials. While it is confirmed that he will meet with Song Tao, the new director of the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), doubts remain about whether he will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, according to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

MAC Minister Chiu Tai-san stated in a radio interview on Friday that it was highly probable that a senior official other than Song would meet Ma during his trip, but it is currently unlikely that it will be Xi. The two leaders previously met in Singapore in 2015 when Ma was president of Taiwan and chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT).

Chiu cautioned Ma about being used by Chinese propaganda departments, which have failed to show any significant results in the past three years. With Taiwan’s presidential elections approaching in January 2024, Chiu urged the public to pay close attention to Ma’s actions during his trip.

As the MAC monitors developments, including Xi’s itinerary, it is unlikely that Ma and Xi will meet again. However, there is a possibility that Ma may meet with other high-level officials during his trip, such as Wang Huning, the new chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the fourth-ranking member of the Politburo, according to Chiu.

With tensions between China and Taiwan remaining high, Ma’s trip has drawn scrutiny from both sides of the Taiwan Strait. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has expressed hope that the visit will “enhance mutual understanding and trust” between the two sides, while Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has called on Ma to refrain from making any political deals with Beijing.

In response to Ma’s visit, the DPP has called on the government to strengthen Taiwan’s national security and maintain a firm stance on defending the country’s sovereignty. Meanwhile, opposition parties, including the KMT, have called for a more conciliatory approach towards China.