TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) met briefly with local media before departing for China today to pay respects to his ancestors.
Ma said that he had waited 36 years before making this visit to China. He is leading an entourage of 30 Taiwanese college students affiliated with his foundation on the trip to foster greater cross-strait youth exchange, per UDN.
With Ma’s trip coming one day after Taiwan severed diplomatic relations with Honduras, many are urging Ma to be cautious on his 12-day trip to China.
Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), attending a ground-breaking ceremony at the Pingtung Science and Technology Industrial Park today (March 27), urged Ma to "be less temperamental, and more courageous,” when it comes to diplomacy.
He also encouraged Ma to visit more countries and do more in support of Taiwan diplomats who are working hard to open more doors to overcome international isolation, per Liberty Times.
As Ma begins his trip today, more details are beginning to emerge regarding the genesis of the excursion, which started with Ma’s foundation notifying teachers and students that an overseas trip was being planned for the Tomb Sweeping Festival.
The destination was kept a secret until March 19, the day before the news of the China trip was made public, 30 students affiliated with Ma’s foundation were selected for an all-expense paid trip, sponsored by the Ma Ying-jeou Foundation.
In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic froze cross-strait official links to event NGO interaction being delayed. This led many Taiwanese college students to have almost no interaction with Chinese students.
As Ma leads students to visit five different cities on a busy itinerary, he is hoping to reignite cross-strait interactions.