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New Taiwan Premier Appointed to Boost Popularity

Former premier William Lai, left, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and new premier Su Tseng-chang, right, join hands after a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 11, 2019.

Taiwan has appointed Su Tseng-chang as premier, President Tsai Ing-wen said Friday, as she moved to shore up support after the defeat of her pro-independence party in local elections last year.

November’s election trouncing presents a major challenge to Tsai, who faced mounting domestic criticism over her reform agenda while facing renewed threats from China, which considers the self-ruled island its own.

Su is a former premier appointed in 2006 by then President Chen Shui-bian, and was a chairman of Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party for two terms. His appointment follows the widely expected resignation of William Lai, the second premier to quit since Tsai took office in 2016.

With the next presidential election just a year away, analysts say Tsai and Su must build support for the government’s cross-strait policy and further boost the export-reliant economy in a challenging year, amid the Sino-U.S. trade spat.