Ma Ying-jeou names new cross-strait and US envoys

Officials in charge of mainland and US affairs are being replaced in Taiwan by close associates of the president

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 3:20am

Taiwan announced a major diplomatic and cross-strait relations reshuffle yesterday, with its top envoy to Beijing planning to step down and officials responsible for mainland and US affairs being replaced by close aides of the Taiwanese president, Ma Ying-jeou.

Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), announced yesterday that he will tender his resignation at a board meeting next week.

The SEF is scheduled to hold a board meeting on September 27 at which Chiang's deputy, Kao Koong-liang, is also expected to tender his resignation. It is expected that the board will name a new chairman at the meeting.

Chiang, 79, said he had made the decision based on his age, physical condition and career plans.

"I wish the untrue and irresponsible slanderous remarks against me and my family members in recent years will be gone with the wind," Chiang said, referring to criticism from opposition parties over his failure to avoid conflicts of interest involving his family's business interests on the mainland while he was the island's top envoy.

Chiang was elected chairman of the SEF in 2008. Since then, he has held eight rounds of talks with Chen and sealed 18 cross-strait agreements, including the landmark Taiwan-China Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement.

Also yesterday, the island's official Central News Agency (CNA) said Lai Shin-yuan, chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, had been promoted, becoming the island's permanent representative to the World Trade Organisation. She will be replaced by Wang Yu-chi, currently national security adviser, who was presidential office spokesman after Ma took office in 2008.

Meanwhile, King Pu-tsung, a long-time Ma adviser and confidant, has been appointed the island's de facto ambassador to the United States, CNA said.

King, 56, a former Kuomintang (KMT) secretary general appointed by Ma, and now the top adviser of the KMT's international affairs department, will succeed Jason Yuan, it said.

King served as deputy mayor of Taipei from 2004 to 2006, when Ma was mayor.

During this year's presidential election, King helped Ma with his re-election bid, serving as executive director of Ma's campaign office.

A Taipei-based political observer, Tang Hsiung-lung, said the reshuffle indicated that Ma was going to dominate mainland affairs and diplomatic polices in his second term.

"Ma is likely to introduce more aggressive cross-strait-relations and diplomatic policies after the departure of Lai, an official with a green-camp [opposition] background," Tang said. "He dares to move Lai because he doesn't need to seek re-election or worry about any criticism from the opposition parties."