President of Taiwan shifts isle stopover to weekend


POSTED: Friday, July 03, 2009
This story has been corrected.  See below.

The Taiwanese community will hold a reception for Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou over the weekend during his stopover in Hawaii.

The event is one of several stops Ma will make during his brief visit. He and his wife, Chow Mei-ching, are scheduled be greeted by Gov. Linda Lingle tomorrow night at Honolulu Airport.

Ma is on his way back to Taiwan from Central America, where he attended Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli's inauguration Wednesday. His trip—with a 169-person delegation—also included a visit to Nicaragua today.

Ma planned to visit Honduras but canceled after Sunday's coup, which moved up his Hawaii stopover.

His unofficial visit to Hawaii is being handled in a low-profile manner. No official exchanges are allowed, according to diplomatic protocol, as the United States does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and road closures over the weekend, but routes and times are not being released for security reasons.

On Sunday Ma is expected to have breakfast with Lingle, whom he last met in November in Taipei.

In contrast to former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, an independence advocate whose travels were opposed by China, Ma is finding a smoother ride because he seeks to bridge economic relations between Beijing, according to Christopher McNally, a China specialist at the East-West Center.

“;He's getting closer to the Chinese,”; McNally said. “;He has initiated a process of closer economic relations, and that's what they want.”;

At 9 a.m. Sunday he is slated to place a lei on the statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the Republic of China, at the Chinese Cultural Plaza.

A visit to Pearl Harbor is planned before he heads to the East-West Center for lunch with invited guests. Ma will then head to a reception at the Kahala Hotel and Resort hosted by the Overseas Chinese in Hawaii organization before he departs Sunday night for Taiwan.

Ching Yuan Hu, president of the Association of Chinese Scholars in Hawaii, is looking forward to Ma's visit.

“;We're excited,”; said Hu, one of 220 guests who will attend Sunday's invitation-only reception. “;We wish him success in bringing Taiwan and China closer.”;

Hu, who is originally from Taiwan, recalled meeting Ma while he was a college student.






        » Gov. Linda Lingle met with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in November of last year in Taipei. It was the third meeting between them. A story in Friday’s Star-Bulletin on page 10 incorrectly said they last met in 2003 when Ma was mayor of Taipei.