Tsai Ing-Wen

Taiwan's Ma 'may visit the mainland'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2011, 12:00am


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Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou could become the first president of the island to visit the mainland if he wins a second term, says his most trusted aide, King Pu-tsung, who adds Ma might also sign a peace agreement with Beijing.

But, King said, that all depended on whether it would be advantageous to Taiwan, not hurt Taiwanese interests and sovereignty and respect the island's dignity.

Speaking to Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television in Washington on Sunday, King, the manager of Ma's re-election campaign office, said everything was possible.

'As long as it sticks to those principles, the president would not rule out the possibility of visiting the mainland if elected to a second term,' said King, who is visiting the United States as Ma's proxy to solicit overseas support ahead of the island's presidential election, set for January 14.

At a separate news conference in Washington on Sunday, King also said Ma would not rule out signing a peace accord with Beijing in line with those principles.

Ma declined to confirm yesterday whether he would visit the mainland if elected for a second term.

King said most people in Taiwan favoured a peaceful and prosperous relationship with the mainland and dared Dr Tsai Ing-wen, the chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and Ma's main challenger for the presidency, to make similar proposals on cross-strait contacts and relations.

'If she does that, we will give her our full support, as it has long been the hope of the Kuomintang to have peaceful and prosperous relations with the mainland,' King said.

He criticised Tsai for policy flip-flops, including her previous support of the so-called 'unification option' - a reference that it should be up to Taiwanese people to opt for reunification with the mainland or not - while she was head of the Mainland Affairs Council, the island's top mainland policy planning body.

Tsai supported the option in 2005 during Chen Shui-bian's term as president, but rejecting that after she became chairwoman of the pro-independence DPP in 2008.

King said Tsai had admitted to being culturally Chinese, but had since seemed to lose her memory by claiming she was not.

King's comments drew a sharp rebuke from Tsai yesterday. She said he was not in the position to make statements on behalf of Ma about mainland visits and the signing of a peace pact because he was not a senior government official.

'Remarks like these could only be made by Ma himself as he is the president,' Tsai said.

Speaking at a news conference at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport before leaving on a nine-day visit to six US cities, including Washington, Tsai criticised King for raising campaign grudges between the rival camps in the US. 'Such a campaign tactic is low and only further divides Taiwan,' she said.

Tsai's party also said that if Ma visited the mainland, the only title he could use would be president of Taiwan, not chairman of the KMT.

'For the sake of the dignity of Taiwan, he must use his official president title to visit China,' the DPP said.