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Ex-President Ma emphasizes cross-strait cultural ties on China visit

04/04/2024 09:43 PM
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Former President Ma Ying-jeou (right) visits the residence of Republic of China founding father Sun Yat-sen in Guangdong Province on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Ma's office April 2, 2024
Former President Ma Ying-jeou (right) visits the residence of Republic of China founding father Sun Yat-sen in Guangdong Province on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Ma's office April 2, 2024

Taipei, April 4 (CNA) Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Thursday expressed hope that young people in Taiwan would "keep in mind [their] Chinese cultural roots" as he paid respects to the Yellow Emperor, whom some believe to be the ancestor of Chinese people, at a ritual in China.

Ma, who is currently on an April 1-11 visit to China, made the comment to reporters after taking part in the official event held in Huangling County in Shaanxi Province, where, according to legend, the emperor was buried.

Ma left office in 2016 after serving two four-year terms.

He said that attending the ritual in China in person "bore significant meaning to him" as he had paid tribute to the emperor in similar events held in Taipei six times in the past.

The majority of the Taiwanese "have an extremely strong belief in Chinese culture and ethnic identity," Ma said, adding that such belief was intact even after the Japanese Empire's 50-year colonial rule in Taiwan from 1895-1945.

After the colonial period, Ma said, the people of Taiwan continued to recognize the Yellow Emperor as their ancestor and strive to maintain "the subjectivity and dignity of the Taiwanese."

He encouraged young people from Taiwan to "firmly remember the roots of Chinese culture and the Chinese nation" and take pride in being the descendants of the Yellow Emperor.

Thursday's ritual was held at the Palace of Offering Sacrifices in Xuanyuan Temple of Emperor Huang's Mausoleum, as part of an annual commemorative event on Tomb Sweeping Day, which falls on Thursday this year.

Accompanied by China's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Song Tao (宋濤), Ma joined a procession of officials from the central and local governments to offer a flower basket during the ceremony, where the host referred to him as the "former chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT)."

Ma and a group of Taiwanese students arrived in Shaanxi Province on Wednesday evening, after wrapping up their visit to Guangdong Province earlier in the week.

Ma met with Huang Kunming (黄坤明), a member of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) Politburo and the CCP secretary of Guangdong, on Wednesday, during which he urged both sides of the Taiwan Strait to "work together, pursue peace, and avoid war."

Multiple news outlets, including Reuters, have reported that Ma will meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) on April 8.

The KMT, meanwhile, has been coy when asked by the media about the matter.

(By Liu Kuan-ting, Lu Chia-jung and Teng Pei-ju)

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