Former Taiwanese President to Make Historic Visit to Mainland China

Ma Ying-jeou and his Kuomintang opposition party want to reduce cross-strait tensions

Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will lead a delegation to mainland China next week in an effort to improve cross-strait relations as tensions are soaring in the region.

The trip will be historic as no Taiwanese president, whether former or sitting, has visited China since Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang (KMT) forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 following their defeat in the civil war against the Communist Party of China.

Today, the KMT is the main opposition party and favors friendlier relations with Beijing than the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP and President Tsai Ing-wen have taken steps to significantly boost ties with the US, resulting in more Chinese military pressure on the island, making a conflict seem much more likely.

Ma served as president from 2008 to 2016 and is still a senior leader in the KMT. Hsiao Hsu-tsen, the executive director of Ma’s foundation, said there should be more exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

“Instead of buying more weapons, it would be better to increase exchanges between young people of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Hsiao said, according to The South China Morning Post. “The more they are able to promote their friendship, the less risk there will be.”

Hsiao said Ma believes the DPP’s policies will only increase the chance of war. Ma’s visit to China will focus on fostering exchanges between young people and paying tribute to his ancestors.

The DPP has slammed Ma for his plans to visit the mainland. “Former president Ma totally ignores the fact that the Chinese Communists have continued to ramp up pressure against us, including intensifying military threats and isolating us internationally,” said DPP spokesman Chang Chih-hao.

Ma’s itinerary does not include a visit to Beijing, and he has no plans to meet with high-level Chinese officials, but he has not ruled out meeting with local officials. He will be in China for 12 days starting on March 27 and will lead a delegation of students and former officials.

Taiwan’s next presidential election will be held in January 2024. The outcome could have a major impact on US-Taiwan relations as a KMT victory would likely mean Taipei would be looking for better relations with Beijing.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.