“We are all Chinese,” said the former Taiwan president during his visit to China.

NANJING, China (Reuters) – Former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said on Tuesday at the start of a historic visit to China that the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are of Chinese origin and share the same ancestry. Criticize.

Ma, who held office from 2008 to 2016, is the first former or current Taiwanese president to visit China since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a civil war with the Communists.

He visits amid rising tensions as Beijing uses political and military means to try to pressure democratically-ruled Taiwan into accepting Chinese sovereignty.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party questioned why he would visit after China took away another Taiwanese diplomatic ally, Honduras, on Sunday, leaving the island with formal diplomatic relations with only 13 countries.

Ma praised Sun’s contributions in comments in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing at Sun Yat-sen’s mausoleum, where the man celebrated the overthrow of the last Chinese emperor in 1911 and the founding of a republic.

“The people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese, and both are descendants of Emperor Yan and Yellow,” Ma said in remarks made by his office.

Use what wording in Chinese to mean people of Chinese descent, rather than referring to their nationality. The descendants of Emperor Yan, yellow is an expression referring to the common ancestor of the Chinese people.

According to opinion polls, most Taiwanese are no longer considered Chinese.

Sun is still officially considered the father of the Republic of China, which remains the official name of Taiwan.

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The Communist Party also praised Sun for his overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, but the governments in Beijing and Taipei do not recognize each other.

Ma’s visit is part of an outreach by Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), to China in hopes of reducing tensions. The KMT traditionally favors close relations with China, but vehemently denies being pro-Beijing.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly offered talks with China, but has been turned down because China views her as separatist. She says that only the people of Taiwan can decide their own future.

Ma, a senior member of the Kuomintang, said he hoped for peace.

“We sincerely hope the two sides can work together to achieve peace, avoid war and strive to revitalize China,” he said, again using an expression referring to the Chinese people as a race rather than a nationality. This is the inevitable responsibility of the Chinese people on both sides of the Strait, and we must work hard.”

Ma is not scheduled to meet any of the top Chinese leaders on this trip. He and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Singapore in 2015.

(Reporting by Nekoko Chan) By Ben Blanchard. Editing by Jerry Doyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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