Taiwan’s Presidential Office said it had been informed of and “respected” Ma’s plans, noting the trip coincides with a “sensitive moment” of global focus on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s military activities around Taiwan.
The presidential office said it hoped Ma “will demonstrate Taiwan’s values of democracy and freedom” on his trip.
Ma is scheduled to talk to students, visit sites connected to World War II and China’s conflict with Japan as well as those related to the 1911 revolution that overthrew the last Chinese emperor and ushered in the Republic of China.
Given that neither Taiwan nor China’s governments recognise each other, Ma would simply be referred to as “Mr Ma Ying-jeou” while he is in China, Hsiao said.
Ma is a senior member of Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), which favours close ties with China though strongly denies being pro-Beijing.
The KMT says outreach to China is needed now more than ever given the tension across the Taiwan Strait.
“He believes that the two sides have entered an icebound state in recent years. If young people can communicate and have dialogue, it will definitely reduce the current tensions,” Hsiao said of Ma’s thoughts on the visit.
China has rebuffed Tsai’s repeated calls for talks, believing her to be a separatist. She says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.