Former finance minister named Taiwan future premier

AP News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2016 1:57 AM
Former finance minister named Taiwan future premier

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — President-elect Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday named a former finance minister as Taiwan's next premier, tasked with reinvigorating the island's slowing high-tech economy and stabilizing relations with neighbor China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory.

Introduced by Tsai at a news conference Tuesday, Lin Chuan said his would not be just an "economics and finance Cabinet," since challenges come from all sides. Lin and Tsai will take office on May 20.

China has responded skeptically to Tsai's January landslide election that also saw her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party gain a decisive parliamentary majority.

Tsai has pledged no change to the status quo of tense-but-stable peace and robust economic exchanges between the sides. However, China says it isn't satisfied with that stance and insists she endorse Beijing's claim that the two are part of a single Chinese nation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said earlier this month that China won't budge on that demand, regardless of political changes on the island of 23 million. China would "resolutely contain Taiwan independence secessionist activities in any form," Xi told delegates to China's ceremonial legislature on March 5.

Tsai takes over from China-friendly Nationalist Party President Ma Ying-jeou, who oversaw the signing of a series of agreements during his eight years in power establishing closer economic ties between the sides. Her election was seen as a rejection of closer economic ties between the sides that many younger Taiwanese see as threatening their economic futures.

A Japanese colony for 50 years, Taiwan was reabsorbed by China in 1945. It then split away again after Chiang Kai-shek's defeated Nationalists moved their government to the island in 1949 after the Communist seizure of power on the mainland.

Apart from occasional criticism in state media, China has largely held its fire over Tsai's election.

Wearing a black turtleneck and dark jacket, Lin promised to respond to all questions from the island's freewheeling media, in keeping with the accessible and down-to-earth image of Taiwanese politicians that contrasts starkly with the secrecy and aloofness of China's communist leadership. However, Lin asked for some degree of privacy, saying: "If you all call me at home, I'll never get any sleep."