Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou kicked off the second day of his mainland China visit on 28 March in Nanjing by tracing the history of Sun Yat-sen’s founding of the Republic of China.
In his speech, Ma mentioned Minguo (民国, the short form of Republic of China (ROC)) four times. He also put forward the goal of “peaceful struggle and revitalisation of China”, calling for joint efforts across the Taiwan Strait to pursue peace and avoid war.
Paying homage to Sun Yat-Sen
Ma arrived in Nanjing on the night of 27 March, and visited Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum the next morning. He led the visiting delegation up the steps and into the hall, where Liao Yuan-hao of the Ma Ying-jeou Foundation’s Dajiu Academy (大九学堂) introduced him as “President Ma” to begin the ceremony.
Standing in front of the statue of Sun Yat-sen, a sombre-faced Ma became teary-eyed as he read out Sun’s will, before presenting a wreath.
Ma wrote the inscription “Peaceful struggle and revitalisation of Zhonghua” (和平奋斗、振兴中华, where the use of the word Zhonghua is subtly different from Zhongguo which is China), simply signing it “Ma Ying-jeou” without including any designations.
Liao then delivered a eulogy on behalf of the delegation. In his introduction, Liao said, “On March 28 of the year Guimao [referring to 2023], Mr Ma Ying-jeou, former chair of the Kuomintang, led a delegation to pay homage to the spirit of Mr Sun Yat-sen, Father of the Nation, with a simple flower ceremony.”
This was a departure from the past, whereby senior KMT officials like Lien Chan and Hung Hsiu-chu referred to the Republican calendar when paying respects at the mausoleum. However, the eulogy did mention Sun’s “founding of the Republic” and the “1992 Consensus, a basis for peace, for the benefit of the people". Furthermore, the wreath that Ma offered was signed “Ma Ying-jeou, former chair of the Kuomintang”.
The delegation then entered Sun’s tomb chamber, and gathered around and bowed three times to Sun’s coffin. Thereafter, they went into the temple’s “ear room” or side room, where Ma wrote the inscription “Peaceful struggle and revitalisation of Zhonghua” (和平奋斗、振兴中华, where the use of the word Zhonghua is subtly different from Zhongguo which is China), simply signing it “Ma Ying-jeou” without including any designations. Meanwhile, the Republican and Gregorian years appeared side by side, with no mention of “Minguo”.
... he recounted Sun’s establishment of the Republic of China and mentioned Minguo four times.
Unavoidable responsibility of both sides of Taiwan Strait
After visiting the mausoleum, Ma gave his full speech to the media, titled “Former President Ma Ying-jeou leads the Ma Ying-jeou Foundation colleagues and students to pay respects to the Nanjing Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum on 28 March, the 112th year of the Republic of China”, in which he recounted Sun’s establishment of the Republic of China and mentioned Minguo four times.
He asserted that the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Zhonghua minzu (中华民族, of Chinese ethnicity), and are both descendants of the Yan and Yellow Emperors (炎黄子孙). He said, “Today, many of the founding proposals made by the founding father [Sun Yat-sen] are being gradually implemented in Taiwan and the mainland, which is crucial for the lives and well-being of people on both sides of the strait and future generations.”
Ma also mentioned that Sun’s last words for the Chinese people had been “peace, struggle and save China” (和平、奋斗、救中国). Now 98 years later, dozens of members and students from the Ma Ying-jeou Foundation in Taiwan have come to pay their respects at Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum in Nanjing, and put forward the goal of “Peaceful struggle and revitalisation of Zhonghua”, deeply hoping that both sides of the Taiwan Strait will work together to pursue peace, avoid war, and strive to revitalise Zhonghua.
At the end of his speech, Ma stressed that this is an unavoidable responsibility that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait must work hard to fulfil.
In an interview, Ma reiterated that both sides of the Taiwan Strait must move towards a peaceful struggle to revitalise Zhonghua and also pursue peace, or there will be no future for either side.
After leaving Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, Ma then headed to the Second Historical Archives of China, which houses archival materials of central institutions during the ROC era; the former site of the ROC’s Presidential Office; and the former residence of John Rabe, a German businessman who protected over 600 Chinese people during the Nanjing Massacre.
That evening, Jiangsu Communist Party Secretary Xin Changxing met Ma at Jinling Hotel. Ma addressed Xin as “Mr Xin” and pointed out that “Mr Xi” (referring to CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping) had stressed the importance of forging closer bonds of heart and mind between people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait when the pair met in Singapore.
This is the first time since Ma’s trip that mainland officials have publicly mentioned Ma’s former positions.
Mutual trust necessary to avoid war
Ma hopes that both sides of the Taiwan Strait will cooperate and build mutual trust so as to avoid war, adding that both sides should replace confrontation with communication, and conflict with negotiation. He also hopes that the mainland will better understand the Taiwan people’s thinking and work together to avoid war and pursue peace.
Xin said that whether in his capacity as “the former chair of the Chinese Kuomintang or the former leader of the Taiwan region”, Ma has adhered to the 1992 Consensus and the "one China" principle, opposing Taiwan independence and actively promoting the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and cross-strait exchange, which the mainland deeply appreciates.
This is the first time since Ma’s trip that mainland officials have publicly mentioned Ma’s former positions. When Chinese state media Xinhua briefly reported on Ma’s arrival in Shanghai, it referred to him as “Ma Ying-jeou” without any designations.
This article was first published in Lianhe Zaobao as ““登陆”第二天拜谒南京中山陵 马英九四度提“民国”吁两岸努力追求和平”.
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