Of course, to create an atmosphere conducive to “unification,” Xi is in a hurry to bring about a meeting with Ma. Since he has already refused to meet with Ma at an international occasion, the two could meet in China at any place and at any time. As long as Ma is willing to accept humiliating and unequal conditions, perhaps a meeting at the birthplace of Confucius (孔子), Qufu in Shandong Province, would be possible.
In November last year, Xi gave a private speech during a visit to Qufu that was later publicized, but then quickly withdrawn. In the speech, Xi said that he hoped everyone remembered what Confucius taught in the Analects.
Xi said that Confucius’ philosophy is a remedy not only for treating China’s problems, but also the problems of Western societies. He said Confucian culture can help spread traditional virtues, establish a new spirit for the times and lift the spirits of Chinese while also increasing the “soft power” that culture represents. These comments are very similar to Ma’s line of thinking.
The travels of Confucius to the kingdoms of his time were tantamount to political begging, but he never succeeded in persuading a king to follow his doctrine.
What we should pay attention to now is whether Xi will give Ma a shred of greater prominence and let him go down in history.
Paul Lin is a political commentator.
Translated by Drew Cameron