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Negotiator Named Taiwan's 'Premier'
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Taiwan named its top mainland negotiator Chang Chun-hsiung as its new "premier" yesterday after the surprising resignation of Su Tseng-chang.

Taiwan's leader Chen Shui-bian announced the appointment of Chang Chun-hsiung, considered friendly to both Chen and next year's ruling party "presidential" nominee Frank Hsieh, as his sixth "premier" in seven years.

Chang, who was a "premier" before under the Chen administration, is chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, a semi-official organization dealing with relations with the mainland.

Su lost to Hsieh in the party's primary last week, and political analysts said he had to step down so as not to use his office to steal the limelight from Hsieh.

A "cabinet" spokeswoman said the handover would take place tomorrow at the earliest. Chen's "presidency" will end in 2008.

However with only one year to serve, it will be difficult for Chang to meet demands relating to economic development and other domestic policies, analysts said.

"People very much expect Chen Shui-bian to be a lame duck," said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University of Hong Kong." 'Premier' Chang will be under a lot of pressure to prove (he can formulate) a concrete policy platform covering economic development and various livelihood issues."

Chang's latest appointment comes at a time when the sharply divided "parliament," of which opposition parties hold a slim majority, has yet to pass the government budget for 2007. The "cabinet" approved the budget months ago.

"(The people in Taiwan) don't want to see continued disagreements between the 'cabinet' and the 'legislature'," the 69-year-old Chang said during a news conference after Chen announced his appointment.

Shortly into his first "premiership," which lasted from October 2000 through to February 2002, Chang shelved plans for a $5.5 billion nuclear plant. The move angered the opposition-dominated "legislature" and helped sow the seeds of a political deadlock between the ruling and opposition parties that lasts until this day.

(China Daily May 15, 2007)

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