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Ex-president Ma hopes to meet 'old friend' Xi on China trip: Aide

03/26/2024 02:36 PM
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Former President Ma Ying-jeou (front) and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk into the venue at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on Nov. 7, 2015. CNA file photo
Former President Ma Ying-jeou (front) and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk into the venue at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore on Nov. 7, 2015. CNA file photo

Taipei, March 26 (CNA) An aide to former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Tuesday teased the possibility of a meeting between Ma and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) during his upcoming trip to China.

In a radio interview, Ma Ying-jeou Culture and Education Foundation Director Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑) said Ma is currently just "a regular citizen," having left the presidency eight years ago and not holding any positions in government or politics.

But based on the important history that Ma and Xi made together in 2015, Ma "of course hopes there is an opportunity to see an old friend," Hsiao said.

Pressed on whether arrangements were being made for such a meeting, Hsiao said only that like the media, he "hoped" it will take place.

Because the delegation will be guests, however, the exact arrangements are being left up to the Chinese side as hosts, he said.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (fourth left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (fourth right). CNA file photo
Former President Ma Ying-jeou (fourth left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (fourth right). CNA file photo

Ma, who served as president from 2008-2016, held a historic meeting with Xi in Singapore in 2015, marking the first meeting of leaders from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

Ma also became the first former president in Taiwan to visit China last spring, and on Monday, his foundation announced that he is planning to lead another delegation of students to the country from April 1-11.

According to the foundation, the delegation will tour companies, visit sites of Chinese historical and cultural significance, and hold exchanges with university students in Guangdong and Shaanxi provinces and Beijing.

The fact that this trip, unlike the previous one, will include a stop in Beijing has given rise to speculation in Taiwan's media that a second Ma-Xi meeting could be in the works.

Responding to Ma's planned visit, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said Tuesday that he "respects" the former president's right to do so as a private citizen.

Chen said he nevertheless hoped that during the trip, Ma will act in a way that meets the expectations of the Taiwanese public on matters relating to sovereignty, democracy and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, Taiwan People's Party Chairman Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) told reporters he was not opposed to Ma's visit, as long as it was conducted on the basis of "dignity and parity."

(By Liu Kuan-ting, Wang Yang-yu, Chen Chun-hua and Matthew Mazzetta)

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