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Former KMT chief's visit constructive

By LI LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2023-04-01 09:42
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Song Tao (right), head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, travels on Friday with Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang party, on a high-speed train from Wuhan, Hubei province, to Changsha, Hunan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang party, called on Thursday for more student exchanges across the Taiwan Straits.

He made the remark during a visit to Wuhan University in Hubei province.

The institution cooperates with 30 colleges and research institutes in Taiwan, and has student exchanges with 24 colleges on the island. Zhang Pingwen, president of Wuhan University, delivered a welcome speech at an exchange event between its students and their counterparts from Taiwan, led by Ma.

Zhang said that generations of scholars at the university have been actively involved in cross-Straits exchanges. It has promoted cross-Straits exchanges in the fields of education, academics and youth affairs, and striven to create favorable conditions for Taiwan students to study, live and work on the mainland, he said.

Zhang hoped that young people on both sides of the Straits would strengthen exchanges and join hands in realizing the Chinese Dream of rejuvenating the Chinese nation.

While speaking at the event, Ma said it is crucial for young people on both sides of the Straits to interact more and understand each other better, and also expressed the hope that Wuhan University students will go to Taiwan for exchanges.

Exchanges between students across the Straits, which have been paused due to disruptions since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic impeded academic programs around the world, should be resumed and expanded, he said.

People in Taiwan and on the mainland share the same culture and ethnic identity, and exchanges can help promote integration between them, Ma added.

Wang I-hsuan, a Taiwan student of journalism at Wuhan University who took part in the event, said that she fully supports such exchanges, and hopes that the young generation will join hands and shoulder the historical mission of national rejuvenation.

"The discussion was lively, and the event let me realize the deep feelings of the Chinese nation and our common cultural genes," she told Xinhua News Agency.

In an earlier interview with China Daily, Betty Yuan, chief executive of the Northern California Chinese Athletic Federation in San Francisco, who is an immigrant from Taiwan, said that she's confident that Taiwan students' exchanges with their mainland counterparts are bound to be fruitful.

"Through in-person experiences, the students can really understand the long and rich history of the Chinese nation. Young people should contribute to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and this is an opportunity for them to participate in the mission," Yuan said.

She recalled an encounter with a Taiwan student who was studying at Peking University in 2000. The student told her that studying on the mainland broadened his horizons."More than 20 years have passed, and China is now the world's second largest economy. I think the Taiwan students must be able to benefit more from engagement with the mainland," said Yuan.

In comments posted online, Huang Chih-hsien, a political commentator and writer in Taiwan, said Ma's visit is significant because the two sides have been separated for too long, and in the minds of some Taiwan people, the word "China" has become very elusive. What people see, hear and feel through Ma's first visit to the mainland will help revive the national memory in the soul of Taiwan residents.

Song Tao, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, traveled together with Ma on a high-speed train from Wuhan to Changsha, Hunan province, on Friday afternoon.

Lia Zhu in San Francisco and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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