Wed, Jul 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Speculation raised over TAO boss’ missing name

By Lin Liang-sheng and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The absence of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) from the attendance list for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) National Congress this fall has sparked speculation that he might be retiring, political observers in Taiwan said.

If Zhang, who is 64, retires, Beijing might reshuffle the TAO’s leadership, they said.

His name was not on the list of officials scheduled to attend the congress — including 186 at state organs and 109 at apparatuses under direct central government control.

TAO Vice Minister Chen Yuanfeng (陳元豐) is the only TAO official on the list.

Political watchers said that given his age, Zhang is likely to retire either after the congress or before the annual National People’s Congress next year.

The possible appointment of a new TAO minister might usher in a new strategic approach regarding Taiwan, they said.

China has been infusing its Taiwan-affairs establishment with new blood, they said.

Zhang Zhajie (鄭柵潔), who was recently appointed as a TAO vice minister, and Institute of Taiwan Studies chairman Yang Mingjie (楊明杰) were both outsiders to China’s established circle of Taiwan experts, and the next TAO minister might be another unconventional pick, they said.

There were rumors late last year that Zhang’s job was on the block because he had failed to anticipate the election of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), but Chinese officials said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has been satisfied with Zhang’s performance.

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