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Taiwan's Cabinet Resigns

  • Siska Silitonga

The Taiwan cabinet has resigned en masse to pave the way for a new post-election cabinet. As Analysts do not expect a new government line-up to have any major effect on Taipei's policy towards the mainland.

Taiwan's entire 20-member cabinet, including Prime Minister Yu Shyi-Kun, tendered its resignation Monday to give President Chen Shui-bian a free hand in choosing a new set of ministers.

The move follows the parliamentary election last December, in which President Chen's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party was defeated by an opposition coalition led by the Nationalist Party.

In Taiwan's political system, the president is the head of state and appoints the prime minister, who heads the cabinet and runs the day-to-day affairs of government. The prime minister then liaises with parliament, which has the final say over lawmaking.

President Chen is expected to name the island's new prime minister on Tuesday. Whoever is appointed will form a new cabinet in consultation with Mr. Chen. Several key members of the outgoing cabinet are expected to retain their jobs.

Philip Yang, a political professor at Taiwan National University, doesn't expect Taiwan's policy towards China to change much with a new cabinet.

"It is expected that those cabinet members who are in charge of cross-strait relations will remain unchanged. So I believe in terms of policy, there will be no major changes," he said.

Beijing sees Taiwan, which has been self-governed since 1949, as a breakaway province, and has threatened to attack if the island formally declares independence. Mr. Chen won re-election in last year's presidential election by a narrow margin, but his pro-independence party then lost the December parliamentary elections.

Analysts say that because of the military threat and the growing economic relationships between the two sides, Taiwan's voters prefer not to provoke Beijing.

Professor Yang thinks if there are going to be slight changes in Taiwan's new cabinet policy towards China, it will result from public pressure to reduce tensions.

"In terms of policy there will be no major changes, but definitely some pressure from the people and from the parliament," he said. "[They] would ask the government to be more active to improve cross-strait relations."

The new cabinet will take office on February 1, along with the new parliament.

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