Tung Chee-hwa told visiting Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou yesterday that he would visit Taiwan 'at a suitable time'. The Chief Executive also said the SAR Government would establish a representative office in Taipei if the time was right. And he asked the popular mayor how he could raise his own popularity ratings. Mr Ma was received in his official capacity as Taipei Mayor by Mr Tung at Government House yesterday afternoon. Mr Tung was accompanied by Information Co-ordinator Stephen Lam Sui-lung, special adviser Paul Yip Kwok-wah and private secretary Richard Yuen Ming-fai. It was the first time the heads of the SAR and Taipei had met each other while in office. Mr Ma was not received by Mr Tung during his last visit in March 1999. During the meeting, Mr Ma repeated an invitation to Mr Tung to visit Taipei, adding that Tsai Ing-wen, chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, approved of the offer. 'Thank you for your invitation,' Mr Tung said. 'I will visit Taiwan at a suitable time. I have many friends and relatives in Taiwan.' He dismissed the suggestion that the timing for a visit to Taipei depended mainly on cross-strait relations. 'I always visited Taiwan before [the handover]. But, you know, I am really very busy,' Mr Tung said. Mr Ma said he would respect Mr Tung's decision on the timing of any visit. Mr Lam said the issue of reunification had been discussed. While the Chief Executive said he hoped to see peaceful reunification of the country under the principle of 'one China', the mayor said Taipei was promoting co-operation with Hong Kong and Shanghai under 'one country'. 'The SAR considers this to be a positive development in the right direction,' Mr Lam said. Taiwan's democratic system was not on the SAR's agenda. Mr Tung said: 'Hong Kong's situation is special due to our 156-year colonial history. We shall walk our own way, step by step.' Speaking after the meeting, Mr Ma said he was not disappointed Mr Tung had declined to name a date for a visit to Taipei. Should Mr Tung be unable to visit at the moment, Taipei would welcome senior SAR government officials first, he said. Mr Ma revealed Mr Tung had asked him about ways to boost his popularity. 'Mr Tung particularly asked me one question. He said: 'Could you tell me why Taipei people support you so much? My friends tell me your popularity rating hit as high as 70 per cent in Taipei. Could you tell me how to raise [my] popularity?'.' Mr Ma said delegation member Chung Siu-ping, a Taipei councillor, advised Mr Tung to take up basketball and go running.