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Ex-President Ma mentions 'ROC' during ancestor worship in China (update)

04/01/2023 09:29 PM
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Former President Ma Ying-jeou (second left) meets with secretary of the Chinese Communist Party
Former President Ma Ying-jeou (second left) meets with secretary of the Chinese Communist Party's Hunan Provincial Committee Shen Xiaoming (second right) on Saturday. CNA photo April 1, 2023

Taipei, April 1 (CNA) Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Saturday referred to Taiwan by its official name, Republic of China (ROC), during an ancestor worship ritual in China, which does not recognize the ROC.

Speaking at the burial site of his ancestors in Hunan Province's Xiangtan city, Ma said he had been elected twice as "president of the ROC" -- in the years "Minguo 97" and "Minguo 101," referring to 2008 and 2012, respectively, on the solar calendar.

During his eight-year tenure, Ma said, he governed with integrity, diligence and care for the people, guided by his family's philosophy that the main purpose of education is to do good deeds for others.

Those eight years were the most peaceful and prosperous period in the 70 years of separate governance in Taiwan and China, he said.

This was achieved though his administration's policy of maintaining peace with mainland China, building closer ties with the United States, and enhancing friendship with Japan, Ma said, as he, his sisters and other family members burned incense and made offerings at their ancestors' grave site.

"This is the first time in my life that I've come to the mainland to worship my ancestors and visit my relatives," Ma said. "It is a very emotional feeling."

Former President Ma Ying-jeou visits the Nanyue Martyrs
Former President Ma Ying-jeou visits the Nanyue Martyrs' Memorial Hall in Hunan. CNA photo April 1, 2023

In the evening, Ma met with Shen Xiaoming (沈曉明), secretary of the Chinese Communist Party's Hunan Provincial Committee, in Changsha City.

Giving an account of his visit earlier in the day, Ma said ancestor worship means a lot to him personally and he was also able to see the place where his parents and grandparents lived.

Although people in Taiwan and China have different lifestyles and values, they share the same blood, language, history and culture, Ma said, adding that mainstream Taiwanese society is supportive of peaceful and stable cross-strait relations.

Shen, meanwhile, said he would like to welcome Ma's homecoming on behalf of the Hunan provincial government and its people, calling Ma an "Internet celebrity" due to the widespread public attention being paid to his trip.

Shen also told the Taiwanese students in Ma's delegation that he hopes more young people will seek to develop their careers in Changsha, where Taiwanese business people are respected and looked after.

Hunan is the hometown of Ma's parents Ma Ho-ling (馬鶴凌) and Chin Hou-hsiu (秦厚修), who moved permanently to Taiwan via Hong Kong after the Chinese civil war of 1945-1949.

Ma's historic 12-day trip to China, which started March 27, is the first by a former ROC president since 1949, when the ROC government relocated to Taiwan during the civil war.

Since his arrival in China, he has used the term ROC on several occasions, but those references have been edited out of the Chinese-language news reports by CCTV there, in both its print and TV coverage of his visit, presumably because Beijing does not recognize the ROC.

CNA video

At an event in China on March 28, Ma wrote "112" in reference to the year when signing his calligraphy work. This refers to the 112th year since the establishment of the Republic of China, a term of reference still used on official documents in Taiwan.

However, Ma did not write the characters "Zhonghua Minguo" before the date which is how such dates are written in Taiwan. He has also used the shorthand term "Minguo" in lieu of "ROC" in some of his remarks. In both instances, he has been criticized by the Democratic Progressive Party and pro-Taiwan independence groups at home.

The term "Minguo" is short for "Zhonghua Minguo" (中華民國) and serve as a Chinese phonetic abbreviation for the Republic of China.

(By Lu Chia-jung, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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