Ma Ying-jeou calls for both sides of Taiwan Strait to work together and ‘avoid war’

Ma Ying-jeou calls for both sides of Taiwan Strait to work together and ‘avoid war’
Ma Ying-jeou calls for both sides of Taiwan Strait to work together and ‘avoid war’

Former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou has called on the two sides of the strait to work together and “avoid war” on the second day of his mainland China tour.

Ma, a senior member of the Beijing-friendly opposition Kuomintang, made the remarks during a visit to the former residence of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China, in the Guangdong city of Zhongshan on Tuesday.

Quoting Sun’s last words – “peace, struggle, save China” – Ma said he hoped “both sides of the Taiwan Strait can work together, avoid war… and jointly create peace and prosperity”, according to a statement from Ma’s office.

Reflecting on Sun’s pursuit of a China with “freedom, unity, equal wealth”, Ma said people on both sides of the strait “belong to the Chinese nation”.

“Many of the founding propositions that Sun Yat-sen had in mind back then have now been realized in Taiwan and the mainland respectively,” he said. “This is crucial to the lives and well-being of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and future generations.”

Ma is on an 11-day mainland trip that he has called a “journey of peace”. He is expected to meet President Xi Jinping next week.

The visit comes ahead of Taiwan’s president-elect William Lai Ching-te‘s inauguration on May 20, which could bring more uncertainty to already strained cross-strait ties. Beijing has branded Lai, of the Democratic Progressive Party, as a “separatist” and “troublemaker”.

Ma arrived in the southern tech hub of Shenzhen on Monday, visiting DJI Technologythe world’s largest consumer drone maker, and social media and gaming giant Tencent. He also visited electric vehicle maker BYD Auto on Tuesday. The visits come as Beijing is pushing for more hi-tech development, as China’s rivalry with the US intensifies.

At the headquarters of BYD – which overtook Tesla as the world’s top seller of EVs at the end of last year – Ma asked Song Tao, who heads the Taiwan Affairs Office, about the global race for technologies and the mainland’s policy support in the sector.

“[We] have confidence that [other countries] will never be able to chase us,” Song told him, according to Taiwanese media. He added that Beijing’s most effective industry support policies in recent years were those related to EVs.

China has one of the fastest-growing EV markets in the world, accounting for around 57.4 per cent of global production. Electric vehicles were also one of the sectors identified in the government’s annual report this year as being in need of a “new leap forward”.

Visiting DJI on Monday, Ma raised the sensitive issue of the use of its drones in the war in Ukraine. A company employee told him that they “cannot restrict” such usage, Taiwanese media reported. DJI stopped the sale of its drones in Ukraine and Russia in April 2022, but they reported to continue to be used by both sides in the conflict.

DJI was added to the US export control list in December 2020, with the Department of Commerce accusing it of being complicit in the oppression of the Uygur minority in Xinjiang and aiding the Chinese military.

Ma is leading a group of 20 students on the trip. They will spend three days in Guangdong province and will also travel to Shaanxi and Beijing.

Ma will meet Xi next Monday, but neither side has confirmed the meeting. Ma and Xi met in Singapore in 2015 – the first such summit since the two sides split in 1949.

Beijing sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory to be brought under mainland control, by force if necessary. Most countries, including the US, do not recognize Taiwan as independent but are opposed to any unilateral change of the cross-strait status quo by force.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Yingjeou calls sides Taiwan Strait work avoid war


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