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Taiwan President Picks New Cabinet Leader

  • Siska Silitonga

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has chosen Frank Hsieh, a leading member of his pro-independence party, as the government's new premier. Mr. Hsieh is promising to aid the president in mapping out more pragmatic policies toward China.

Frank Hsieh replaces Yu Shyi-kun, who served as Taiwan's premier for three years. Mr. Yu and the entire 20-member cabinet resigned Monday to give President Chen Shui-bian a free hand in reshaping his government, after his party lost parliamentary elections last month.

President Chen praised Mr. Hsieh as "the best person" to help open a new era of negotiations with both the opposition and with Mainland China.

Mr. Hsieh on Tuesday promised to seek co-existence and "cross-strait peace" through dialogue with Beijing. He said the new cabinet must maintain cross-strait stability.

The pro-independence policies of President Chen and his Democratic Progressive Party have angered Beijing, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province. Beijing has threatened a military attack if the Taiwan government formally declares independence.

The Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, which won the parliamentary elections, favors maintaining the status quo. Party leaders say the question of whether Taiwan should be independent should be decided by future generations.

Philip Yang, an associate professor of political science at National Taiwan University, says the recent election's message was that the president and his new premier will have to pay serious attention to relations with Beijing.

"A new message from the people [is] demanding the government to pay more attention to enhance cross-straits interaction," he said.

Mr. Hsieh, the 59-year-old mayor of Taiwan's second largest city, Kaohsiung, is expected to announce a new cabinet in two days. The cabinet must be endorsed by the new parliament, which convenes February 1.

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