Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Premier says he will step down, but only if he must

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Frank Hsieh, right, talks to Wang You-tseng, the founder of the Rebar Group, now retired, at the opening ceremony of the General Chamber of Commerce in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday said that he would be more than happy to step down if that is what the country needs, but he also emphasized that his policies toward China followed President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) lead.

"As long as it is good for Taiwan, any political change is more than welcome," Hsieh told reporters yesterday morning after delivering a speech at the Ministry of Economic Affairs' National Commerce Development Conference in Taipei.

Rumors of a Cabinet reshuffle and that Hsieh might step down are currently two of the hottest topics in the nation's political circles.

Responding to what he called Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) "praise" of his China policies, Hsieh said he was merely following the president's lead in promoting active management of cross-strait affairs.

Ma said recently that, although most Democratic Progressive Party politicians have "fallen asleep" as far as cross-strait relations are concerned, some have "stayed awake."

Although Ma did not refer to Hsieh by name, he said that it is not difficult to know who he was talking about. Hsieh has often stated the government's intention to gradually lift restrictions against China.

"My policies are simple -- this country's interests must always come first when it comes to cross-strait relations. Period," he said.

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