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The 12th and 13th President (2008-2016) of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
Ma Ying-jeou was born in 1950 in Hong Kong, and emigrated in 1951 with his family to Taiwan, where he grew up. He graduated from National Taiwan University’s Department of Law in 1972, then served in the Marines and Navy for two years before earning an LL.M from New York University (1976) and an S.J.D. from Harvard University (1981). Dr. Ma began his political career as the deputy director of the Presidential Office’s First Bureau, and doubled as President Chiang Ching-kuo’s personal English interpreter. After President Chiang passed away in 1988, he held a series of other positions in government, including the Chairman of the Research, Evaluation, and Development Commission, Senior Vice Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, and Minister of Justice. In 1998, he was elected mayor of Taipei, an office he held until 2006. In 2008, he was elected President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) with 58% of the vote, the highest in history, and he was re-elected in 2012.
During President Ma’s two terms in office, Taiwan’s per-capita GDP (on a PPP basis) rose from US$34,936 to $48,095, passing the U.K., France, Denmark, Italy, Canada, Japan, and South Korea and advancing 10 places in eight years. Taiwan was able to maintain peaceful relations with the Chinese mainland, friendly relations with Japan, and close relations with the United States; relations with all three countries were the best they had been in many decades. In November 2015, President Ma met with the mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Singapore, the first face-to-face meeting between leaders of the two sides in 70 years. President Ma left office on May 20, 2016.