President of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
Ma Ying-jeou was born on 13th July 1960 in Yau Ma Tei, British Hong Kong and was one of five children. His father had great ambitions for the only son in the family, naming him Ying which means ‘rising talent’ and jeou which means ‘grounded in morality’.
Ma first gained an LL.B from the National Taiwan University in 1972 before going to America to continue his legal studies. In 1976 he gained an LL.M from the New York University Law School and around this time he met his future wife.
In 1981 Ma gained an SJD (Doctor of Juridical Science) from Harvard Law School and returned to Taiwan.
In his first job back in Taiwan, he worked for President Chiang Ching-kuo as the Deputy Director of the First Bureau of the Presidential Office. From there he was promoted to Chair of Research, Development and Evaluation Commission.
By 1984 he was heavily involved in politics and became the Deputy General Secretary of the Kuomintang Party (KMT), where he served until 1988.
In 1993 he was appointed the youngest ever cabinet minister, taking up the Justice portfolio. He remained there for three years, until 1996. Following a series of opportunities he stood as Mayor for Taipei (the capital) and was elected in 1998 where he remained until 2006.
In November 2006 Ma was questioned over the alleged misuse of Mayoral funds and resigned as Mayor. By this time he had become Chairman of the KMT (in 2005) and he resigned that post as well, in accordance with party rules. In August 2007 the Taipei District Court found Ma not guilty of the allegations, then the High Court cleared him of graft charges and finally the Supreme Court cleared him of corruption charges.
Soon after, Ma announced that he was intending to stand for president. In the 2008 presidential campaign he won with 58.45% of the vote. In the same year he was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 Leaders and Revolutionaries.
As president, Ma has taken a much more conciliatory approach to mainland China than his predecessors. This has seen much improved relations and growing business opportunities.
When he was re-elected in 2012 with 51.6% of the vote both the mainland Chinese government and the Americans welcomed the result.
Married to Christine Chow, they have two daughters, Lesley (Ma Wei-chung) and Kelly (Ma Yuan-chung).
Ma Ying-jeou is a keen jogger and enjoys music and swimming.