By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
Taiwan President Ying-jeou Ma plans to visit Central America on May 26. On June 2, he will stop by Seattle on his way home, according to his office’s May 18 press conference.
Ma, 58, will have a chance to meet with Chinese community leaders, according to the May 16 issue of the Seattle Chinese Post (SCP), the sister paper of Northwest Asian Weekly.
The only event planned is that Ma will meet with the community at a dinner consisting of a small gathering to be held at the Seattle Sheraton Hotels & Towers, according to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (an office equivalent to a consul general office). His visit will be low-key according to an office spokesman. No press will be invited.
Accompanied by his wife, Ma will lead a delegation consisting of high-ranking, regional government officials, and other citizens. He will first land in Los Angeles before continuing on to his intended destinations of Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador. His last stop will be in Seattle for one night before going back to Taiwan.
The purpose of Ma’s trip is to attend the inauguration of El Salvador’s president-elect, Mauricio Funes.
Ma has visited Seattle a handful of times. The last time was in 2001, when he was invited by then-Mayor Paul Schell of Seattle to attend the international mayors’ conference at the Westin Hotel.
Former President Chen Shui-bui and Vice President Annette Lu, who were both in support of Taiwan’s independence from China, have also visited Seattle in the past, but their visits caused much displeasure from China, as the United States has a one-China policy and does not formally recognize Taiwan.
Ma was elected on May 20, 2008 and is known to be more pro-China than his predecessors. His pending visit has not aroused any controversies so far.
Ma will stay at the Sheraton hotel in Seattle during his time here. ♦