The Chinese mainland will welcome Ma Ying-jeou, the former leader of Taiwan, who will visit the mainland on March 27 to worship his ancestors and lead young Taiwan students to strengthen exchanges, a mainland spokesman said on Monday morning.
"It's a Chinese tradition to pay careful attention to ancestor worship, and it's also the common custom of the compatriots on both sides across the Taiwan Straits to do such things on Qingming, or Tomb Sweeping Day", Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said in a brief news release.
More exchanges and communications between the young people from across the Straits would "add fresh strength and vitality" to the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, he said.
"We are willing to provide necessary assistance for Mr Ma's visit and wish him all the best during his trip," said the spokesman.
According to the Ma Ying-jeou Foundation, Ma's journey to the mainland will last 12 days from March 27 to April 7, during which he will visit Nanjing, Wuhan, Changsha, Chongqing and Shanghai.
Hsiao Hsu-tsen, the director of Ma Ying-jeou Foundation, said in a news conference on Monday that a group of young students will also attend the trip and visit the historical relics of the Revolution of 1911 and the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).
Those students and the leader will also have exchanges with students from prestigious universities on the mainland, such as Fudan University in Shanghai, Wuhan University in Hubei and Hunan University in Changsha, he said.
According to a more detailed schedule provided by the foundation, Ma's footprints will cover well-known places with both historical and modern significance.
In Nanjing, the former Taiwan leader will visit the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, the former residence of the forerunner of China's democratic revolution, and the Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders.
Meanwhile, he will also visit Chongqing Planning Exhibition Gallery, which demonstrates achievements of urban and rural planning, and Yangshan Port in Shanghai.