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Taiwan’s First Lady to make landmark visit to Russia

The wife of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will travel to Moscow this week, the first visit by a leader’s spouse to Russia, a traditional ally of China.

Chow Mei-ching is scheduled to fly to Moscow Tuesday in her capacity as honorary director of Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, presidential office spokesman Luo Chih-chiang told reporters.

Luo played down the significance of the visit, which has the potential to raise hackles in Beijing at a time of improving relations between China and Taiwan.

“This will be a purely artistic and cultural visit,” Luo said.

However, local media reported that Chow was set to meet Russian politicians, a move that could pave way for official contacts between Taipei and Moscow, which have exchanged unofficial liaison offices.

Beijing has traditionally opposed formal visits abroad by dignatories from the island, which it still regards part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reiterated Moscow’s support for China’s position during a visit to Moscow by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in March.

Despite its traditionally hardline stance, Beijing has begun allowing Taiwan limited participation in international affairs as tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since the China-friendly Ma came to power in 2008.