Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou left on Monday for an 11-day trip to China where he is expected to have his second meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, at a time of simmering tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Ma, president from 2008 to 2016, last year became the first former Taiwanese leader to visit China. Since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's communists, no serving Taiwanese leader has visited China.

China considers democratically governed Taiwan its own territory, and has ramped up military and political pressure to assert those claims.