Fri, Jul 13, 2007 - Page 3 News List

SEF welcomes new chairman despite pan-greens' doubts

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) yesterday approved Premier Chang Chun-hsiung's (張俊雄) appointment of Hong Chi-chang (洪奇昌) as its new chairman despite objections from parts of the pan-green camp.

Hong was welcomed with a round of applause at the SEF's board meeting yesterday as he officially took up the chairmanship.

Foundation board member Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), who doubles as director of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Department of International Affairs, voiced his disagreement during the meeting with Hong's appointment.

Lai said the DPP had received many calls from its supporters who opposed Hong's selection as SEF chairman, as he has been advocating that Taiwan should relax restrictions on investment in China.

The Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan neither informed nor consulted the DPP on Hong's appointment before making the decision, he added.

Earlier in the day, a number of Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislators staged a protest in front of the SEF building in Taipei.

"Many DPP members have criticized Hong's stance on cross-strait affairs. High-ranking DPP members are aware of [Hong's stance], yet they still recommended him as a candidate, totally forsaking the party's promises to the people of Taiwan," TSU Legislator David Huang (黃適卓) said.

Hong said yesterday that he respected the different perspectives on his job and stressed that he would take the government's cross-strait policy into account.

"I support a stable, gradual, practical and open policy on cross-strait affairs," Hong told a press conference after the board meeting.

Asked whether he still insisted on lifting the 40 percent investment cap on China-bound investment, Hong only said that the SEF would follow government policy.

Hong said he hoped to make the SEF a more active platform for the facilitation of cross-strait negotiations and exchanges.

Speaking in defense of Hong at a separate event yesterday, DPP legislative caucus whip Wang Tuoh (王拓) said that Hong was well qualified to serve as SEF chairman.

"The SEF chairman does not have much influence on cross-strait policy-making," Wang said.

The SEF chairman's job revolves around helping the government take care of the problems Taiwanese businesspeople face in China, he said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said he hoped Hong would maintain his position of pushing for enhanced cross-strait exchanges after assuming the SEF chairmanship.

"Hong will have many opportunities to discuss his ideas about cross-strait policy as SEF chairman and I hope he will not abandon the policies for which he is known," Wu said.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan

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