Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was belittled by Beijing during his trip to China, as he was only able to meet China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Song Tao (宋濤) and was not greeted by higher- ranking Chinese officials during his visit, which has harmed Taiwan, academics said on Friday.
Ma said the trip was to pay his respects to his ancestors and to accompany 28 Taiwanese university students for exchanges with students in China, but they only met with 35 students at Wuhan University, 32 students at Hunan University and 30 students at Fudan University.
The Chinese government could easily mobilize thousands of students to attend Ma’s exchange sessions if it wanted, but there were only about 30 students in each session, Cross-Strait Policy Association researcher Wu Se-chih (吳瑟致) said, adding that it seems that Ma was used as Beijing’s tool to counter President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) visit to Central America and stopovers in the US.
Photo: Ann Wang, REUTERS
Before Ma left for China, there were rumors that Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang (丁薛祥) would welcome Ma at the airport, and some had guessed that he would be greeted by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning (王滬寧), who met Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia (夏立言) in Beijing in February, Cross-Strait Policy Association secretary-general Wang Zhin-sheng (王智盛) said.
However, Ma was not greeted by either of them, and only met with Song in Wuhan on short notice, Wang Zhin-sheng said.
Ma “went for the sake of going,” regardless of which members of the Chinese government arranged to meet with him, and he disguised his dream of saying he is Chinese by pretending it was a trip to pay respects to his ancestors along with student interactions, he said.
Ma cooperated with the Chinese government in praising Wuhan’s COVID-19 response, but Beijing still does not view him as a former president or former KMT chairman, but used him as part of its “united front” tactics for political gain, Wang Zhin-sheng said.
Ma is willing to be a “chess piece” of China, to put pressure on Taiwan, belittle its nation status and harm it, Wu said, adding that he must face criticism from Taiwanese, as they have seen how a politician and a former president can be so selfish for his own political gain.
Ma and the KMT are pleased with his trip, claiming that he elaborated on the so-called “1992 consensus,” with “each side [of the Taiwan Strait] having its own interpretation on ‘one China,’” yet although the Chinese government did not refute it in his face, it does not mean it accepts it, Wang said.
The definition and interpretation of the so-called “1992 consensus” are still in the hands of China, so Ma’s trip did not revive the “1992 consensus,” he said, adding that it is merely “terminal lucidity” as it goes into history.
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