Sat, Feb 02, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Tsung keeps quiet on plans for ministry

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER

Christine Tsung (宗才怡) took over from new Vice Premier Lin Hsin-yi (林信義) as Minister of Economic Affairs yesterday but failed to clarify any policy details or the direction for her leadership.

"The main direction for the ministry will be to continue promoting current policy goals set by the Cabinet such as economic liberalization and globalization, improving competitiveness and promoting cross-strait trade and exchanges," Tsung said. Tsung's term will likely run until early 2004.

Tsung, who stepped down as president of China Airlines Co (華航) on Thursday, said that while people had been asking in what direction she planned to take the ministry, she would presently say only little and reveal more details at a later date.

The tone of the remarks were much more muted than promises Tsung made to the press earlier this week when she said she would make Taiwan's economy take off within two years.

Speaking to reporters very briefly after huddling with her vice ministers -- all of whom have survived four Cabinet shakeups dating back to the KMT administration -- Tsung made only a few vague comments.

In responding to questions about cross-strait trade and investment ties, Tsung said that labor-intensive industries that don't threaten to bleed too much local capital should be allowed to go to China while high-value R&D firms should stay. Tsung also said further easing of the "go slow, be patient," policy of restricting investment in China would require more interagency coordination.

During Tsung's term as president at China Airlines, the company contributed to a multi-million dollar cargo terminal project at Xiamen airport in China.

Since being named to the new Cabinet, Tsung has come under intense scrutiny for what observers state is her inexperience in macroeconomic matters and what role her ties to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had in her appointment.

In a recent interview with the Chinese-language Business Weekly, Tsung denied any close personal relationship with Chen and media speculation that she or her husband Chen Chien-lung (陳建隆) had contributed funds to the president's campaign.

Chen Chien-lung was appointed by the government as chairman of the state-run First Commercial Bank (第一銀行) early last year.

Tsung faced similar criticism after being appointed head of China Airlines -- which was also deemed a political placement -- but has been credited by some as helping to improve the airline's atrocious safety record by implementing more transparent management policies.

Prior to taking up the post at China Airlines in July 2000, Tsung worked as a consultant for the Mass Transit System in Kaohsiung City after returning to Taiwan with her husband from the US where she lived for over 20 years.

Tsung, 54, graduated from National Taiwan University and received her MBA from the University of Missouri. She was ranked by Forbes magazine late last year as the world's 10th most powerful woman in international business and as a person to watch this year by the same publication last month.

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