China Airlines chair tapped to lead Taiwan's economics ministry

Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan's Executive Yuan yesterday named China Airlines Chairman Chang Chia-juch as the replacement for outgoing Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang.

Having spent years in both the private and public sectors, Chang will utilize his experience and expertise to map out policies to bolster the country's economy, the Cabinet said in a statement.

Chang was recommended by several "heavyweight figures" during the government's search for the next economics minister, the Cabinet said. Despite Chang's relative lack of experience in the economic sector, he has extensive experience in running state-owned enterprises and excellent personal qualities, a Cabinet official was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying, pointing out that outstanding former Economics Ministers Chao Yao-tung and Sun Yun-suan also came to their posts without prior experience.

In addition to running the Republic of China's flag-carrier, Chang served as vice minister of transportation and communications and chaired state-owned businesses including the China Steel Corp. and Chunghwa Post Co., Ltd.

Meanwhile, Minister without Portfolio Kuan Chung-ming will take over Yiin Chii-ming's post as the head of the economic ministry's Council for Economic Planning and Development, the Cabinet said.

Kuan proved his financial expertise by drafting the government's contingency plans in response to the fiscal cliff crisis in the US in December, the Cabinet said.

Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah, who is set to take over as head of the Cabinet, said earlier yesterday that he hopes to finalize the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle before the Lunar New Year holiday, which starts February 9.

Not all of the Cabinet positions will be changed, Jiang said, adding that he expects consultations with possible candidates to be completed soon.

Premier Sean Chen is scheduled to lead his Cabinet in an en masse resignation February 7. After President Ma Ying-jeou approves Chen's resignation, he will formally appoint Jiang as the new premier, government sources said.

Jiang said he has been discussing the new Cabinet lineup with Ma and that he hopes the list can be finalized before the Lunar New Year break.

As part of the shakeup, the positions of economics minister, finance minister and head of the Council for Economic Planning and Development have received much attention, although Jiang has remained tight-lipped about individual appointments.

One day earlier, Chen stood up for Jiang, a former interior minister, and Transportation Minister Mao Chi-kuo, who is set to become the new vice premier. Jiang and Mao have faced accusations from some critics that they do not have backgrounds in economics and finance.

Jiang said he hopes the new lineup will coordinate their efforts better than the existing one, so that the Taiwanese public will have confidence in the new Cabinet, even though it is not led by a person with much experience in economics and finance.

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