Sat, Jan 29, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Hsieh offers KMT, China peace pipe

FRESH APPROACH The new premier said negotiation is the best way to solve political problems and left the door open for a last-minute opposition posting in the Cabinet

STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Premier-designate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) unveiled most of the new Cabinet yesterday as the Chen administration attempted to ease tensions with both China and opposition parties at home.

In his first meeting with the international media since being appointed premier, the Kaohsiung mayor set a moderate tone for dealing with Beijing.

"I think it is essential to improve the atmosphere between the two sides," Hsieh said. "We should stop policies or language that provoke one another. My administration should be consistent and predictable, to move toward reconciliation and cooperation."

Hsieh takes charge of the Cabinet at a crucial time in cross-strait relations, with Beijing poised to enact an anti-secession law in March that the government fears will give China a legal basis to attack Taiwan.

"I don't think it is necessary to provoke mainland China, verbally or with our behavior," Hsieh said.

Hsieh said that he would only ask state companies to drop the word "China" from their names if there was a practical reason -- such as avoiding confusion with Chinese firms -- thus reining in the more aggressive approach to the matter adopted by outgoing Premier Yu Shyi-kun.

"I received a lot of challenges from pro-independence leaders regarding this issue but I will do it anyway," Hsieh said.

"I think the Cabinet can suggest practical policies, like the Lunar New Year charter flights, or other measures such as cooperating on a crackdown on cross-strait crime," he said, when asked how he could help improve cross-strait relations.

Direct charter flights are set to commence today, which are hoped will lead to better cross-strait communication.

"The charter flights are a very good example for improving cross-strait relations. We started with consultation and helped decrease tensions," Hsieh said.

During a tea party held yesterday for the new Cabinet, Hsieh named 2005 "a year for Taiwan's health."

"Every year should have a name and a goal for development," Hsieh said. "I think the whole of Taiwan's society has been under a lot of pressure. Everyone needs to reduce pressure and make life happier, so I have named this year `a year for Taiwan's health.'"

Hsieh said the new Cabinet will focus on communication and dialogue with local governments, the legislature and within the ministries.

The government would also improve services and increase convenience for the public, Hsieh said.

"The reason a government exists is to serve the public, isn't it," he added.

Hsieh confirmed that Vice Premier Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭), Cabinet Secretary-General Arthur Iap (葉國興), Central Personnel Administration Director-General Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋), Department of Health Director-General Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) and Minister without Portfolio Lin Yi-fu (林義夫) were stepping down.

Two confirmed additions to the Cabinet are Minister of Justice-designate Morley Shih (施茂林) and the new Cabinet spokesman and minister without portfolio, Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰).

Reports also said that Democratic Progressive Party Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) would become Cabinet secretary-general, but Hsieh said that he had no knowledge of the matter.

Hsieh said that the post of vice premier was still open, and he said he had not given up on the possibility of naming an opposition figure as his deputy.

He added that he would announce the names of the vice premier, the secretary-general and other posts on Monday.

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