Taking office Tuesday, Mr. Ma promised closer economic ties and more talks with Beijing.
It was Taiwan's second democratic transfer of power, after eight years of rule by the pro-independence party. Those years were marked by cross-strait tension, domestic gridlock, and lackluster economic performance.
In a closely watched inaugural address, Ma cited the two sides' common Chinese heritage. That was a noticeable change from his predecessor Chen Shui-bian, who trumpeted the island's distinct identity.
Ma repeated his intent to improve cross-strait ties based on the "1992 consensus." That formula sees both sides recognizing the idea of one China, agreeing to disagree on what exactly that means.
"It's a good beginning," said Tao Wenzhao, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. "There's commonality between Ma Ying-jeou and our position ... this will be positively received in the mainland."
Ma, who belongs to the Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party, has raised expectations with promises of closer economic ties, a resumption of talks frozen since 1999, and a possible peace deal.