Although he left office nearly a year ago, former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is still in the spotlight. Despite the Guomindang’s disastrous electoral defeat in 2016, widely believed to have been caused by his rapprochement with Beijing, Ma continues to defend his legacy. In recent days Ma once again hit the headlines both in China and in Taiwan.
Ma was invited by St John’s University to speak with students on April 24. Most students asked him questions about low wages, pension reform and other currently debated topics. The last questioner, a student from mainland China, instead asked Ma about cross-strait relations. “What practical actions will be taken in the future to accomplish the great task of Taiwan’s peaceful unification with the motherland?”
According to Taiwanese reports, when he heard the question Ma Ying-jeou laughed. “You asked your question nicely. You have expressed very clearly the position of the CCP government,” he was quoted as saying.
Ma went on explaining his own point of view on the issue. “During my 8 years in office I always demanded democracy and peace, therefore ‘peaceful unification’ is the minimum requirement. We should rather go one step forward and say ‘democratic unification’.”
However, Ma added that “China doesn’t need to become a democracy as a precondition for unification. What is important is the method. The Taiwanese people are reasonable, if the plan is good, they will support it,” he said.
Ma warned that if force is used, the result will be different from what the leadership in Beijing expects. He cited investments by Taiwanese business people in mainland China as an example of peaceful cross-strait cooperation. In handling the issue of unification, he stated, mainland China needs to consider the opinions of the Taiwanese people and not act unilaterally.
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