The Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, Southeast China's Taiwan. (Photo/Xinhua)
The planned visit of Ma Ying-jeou to the Chinese mainland from March 27 to April 7, which his foundation announced on Sunday, will make him the first former leader of Taiwan island to visit the mainland.
But it must be noted that the visit of Ma, a member of the opposition Kuomintang on the island, is a private one, as he is visiting his ancestral home in Hunan province for Tomb Sweeping Day.
Ma, who is a legal professor at Taipei-based Soochow University, is also due to bring some college students with him to communicate with their counterparts in Shanghai, Wuhan and Changsha, in a bid to promote youth exchanges across the Taiwan Straits, according to his foundation.
The young people from the island can have valuable firsthand experience of what the mainland is like, and how open-minded and friendly their mainland counterparts are. That will at least prick a hole in the information cocoon the ruling Democratic Progressive Party has tried to weave over the past years to smear the mainland.
While the mainland warmly welcomes Ma's visit, the Tsai Ing-wen administration's reaction has been cold. In a statement it issued on Sunday, it said that Ma will be required to report details of his itinerary to it before and after his visit.
What must have annoyed Tsai is that Ma's unexpected trip, which was announced only a few days in advance, will overlap with her "transit stay" in the United States as she pays a visit to some "diplomatic allies" in Latin America, a major "diplomatic action" of her administration for the year.
Highlighting the strong cultural and blood ties between the two sides of the Straits and promoting face-to-face communication among young people are exactly what it is needed to thaw relations between the two sides that have been seriously damaged by the pro-independence Tsai administration.
And the stark contrast between the purposes of the two trips should be a clear message to Taiwan compatriots that the current difficulties in cross-Straits relations originate from the Tsai administration's hijacking of the island's interests to satisfy its own vanity and that reconciliation with the mainland serves the fundamental interests of the island.