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Former Taiwanese president plans historic trip – media – RT World News

Ma Ying-jeou will visit China this month amid heightened tensions with Beijing, his office reportedly confirmed

Ma Ying-jeou, the former Taiwanese president who made history by meeting his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in 2015, is reportedly planning to break new ground diplomatically by taking an unprecedented trip to the mainland more later this month.

Ma will travel to China from March 27 to April 7 and will visit the cities of Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha, Chongqing and Shanghai, his office confirmed to Reuters on Sunday. His representatives did not reveal whether he intended to meet Xi or any other Chinese government official during the trip.

The visit will mark the first trip to the mainland by a current or former Taiwanese leader since Chiang Kai-shek’s followers fled to the island in 1949. Chiang held his last meeting with Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese communist revolution, in 1945. Then – Presidents Ma and Xi held their historic 2015 summit in Singapore, seeking to ease tensions and strengthen cooperation.

Since Ma’s successor, Tsai Ing-wen, took office in 2016, relations between the self-governing island and Beijing have soured. China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province and still part of its sovereign territory, has promised to reunite with the island. The U.S. government acknowledges, but does not endorse, China’s claim to Taiwan under the so-called “One China” policy.

However, tensions in the Taiwan Strait have escalated since last August, when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defied warnings from Beijing and made a planned visit to Taipei. China responded by stepping up military exercises around Taiwan and cutting military and climate ties with Washington. The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense warned earlier this month of a possible “total blockage” of the Taiwan Strait by Chinese forces.

Ma remains a senior member of the Taiwanese opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party. The KMT has traditionally opposed pressures for full Taiwan independence and has sought peaceful relations with China. KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia visited Beijing last month and met with Wang Huning, a senior Chinese Communist Party official.

Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which accused the KMT of seeking to sell out Taiwan, condemned Hsia for going to “paying court to the Communists”. The current president also blocked Ma’s planned trip to Hong Kong in 2016, citing security concerns, and he was forced to deliver his speech on cross-Strait relations via teleconference.

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Ma will visit sites related to World War II and the 1911 revolution that overthrew China’s last emperor and launched the Republic of China, his office said.

rt Gt

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