Former President Ma Ying-jeou (???) arrived in Chicago late Friday to attend a forum scheduled for Nov. 20.
Ma was greeted at the airport by around 30 Taiwanese expatriates who braved cold winds, one of whom showed off a picture of Ma visiting Chicago in his capacity as Taipei mayor 15 years ago.
Ma posed for pictures with the well-wishers and then left for the University of Notre Dame. Ma was billed to attend a welcome tea party given by the university the following morning, watch an American football game in the afternoon and meet with students from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macau at a seminar in the evening.
Ma, at the invitation of the university's Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, was to speak on Taiwan's new role in Asia and the world at its second Asia Leadership Forum.
Ma said that Taiwan should play a new role in Asia and the world. First of all, it should be a peacemaker, and secondly, a provider of international humanitarian assistance.
Thirdly, it should be a promoter of cultural exchanges; fourthly, a creator of new technology and business opportunities and lastly, a promoter of Chinese culture.
"With these five roles, Taiwan could fully show its soft power," he said.
Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was the first former leader to be invited to speak at the inaugural forum.
Ma's U.S. visit followed a just-concluded trip to Malaysia, during which he attended the World Chinese Economic Summit in Melaka, which was held Nov. 16-17.
Under pressure from Beijing, the organizers of the conference described Ma in the summit's handbook and on its nametags as simply "H.E. Ma Ying-jeou," angering the former president.
Unwilling to accept the treatment, Ma instead wore a self-prepared name tag that clearly identified him as "Former president of the Republic of China (Taiwan)."
Before his departure for the United States, he said at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Friday that China had no need to pressure the organizers, which he said was not conducive to improving cross-strait relations, and instead only incited revulsion toward China among Taiwanese people.
After his speech at the University of Notre Dame, he will travel to Chicago Nov. 21 and attend a welcome dinner by Taiwanese expatriates there.
He will return to Taiwan Nov. 23.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel