Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian has signalled he will continue his hardline policy toward the mainland during the rest of his final term by naming a loyalist as his new "premier", mainland researchers have said.
In a surprise move, Taiwan "premier" Su Tseng-chang resigned on Saturday, days after he was defeated by former "premier" Frank Hsieh in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's "presidential" primary.
Su said he had resigned to allow Chen more room to plot new strategies ahead of the March 2008 "presidential" race.
Su is the fifth "premier" to step down during Chen's seven-year tenure as "president".
Taiwan media yesterday reported that Chen had picked Chang Chun-hsiung, a loyalist and also a former "premier", to succeed Su. The appointment is expected to be announced today.
Chang is currently chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, which is in charge of dealing with cross-Straits relations in the absence of official links.
Chang, 68, was the ruling party's first "premier," from October 2000 to February 2002.
Analysts said that the appointment of Chang, a long-term loyalist and ally of Chen, shows the Taiwan "president" wants a tight grip on cross-Straits relations.
"Chang is known to be a person without his own views," said Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"He will listen to Chen and do whatever Chen says," Li said, predicting that Chang would faithfully stick to Chen's hard-line pro-independence policy.
The researcher said Chen also intended to demonstrate he is not a "lame duck" and is still in control.
Chen is embroiled in a corruption scandal and may face trial after he steps down next year.
"Six 'premiers' in seven years. The frequent changes show that Chen is not acting out of consideration for the Taiwan people but just himself."
Li said that Chen's next move might be to plant his favorites around the new "premier".
"Despite the unity on the surface, Chen obviously doesn't fully confide in Su or Frank Hsieh," he said.
(China Daily May 14, 2007)