Taiwan's Tsai Names Ex-Finance Chief to Steer Economy as Premier

Lin Chuan in 2004.

Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen named former Finance Minister Lin Chuan as premier as she prepares to take power in May and implement plans to revive the island’s slowing economy.

QuickTake Taiwan’s Tightrope

Lin, 64, who led the Ministry of Finance from 2002 to 2006, drafted economic proposals that helped propel Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party to a landslide election victory over the ruling Kuomintang in January. Tsai has pledged to boost Taiwan’s economy by focusing on five areas: biotechnology, green technology, national defense, smart machinery and the Internet of Things.

“I chose Lin because we share the concept of government governance,” Tsai said at a briefing at the DPP headquarters in Taipei on Tuesday to announce the appointment. “Lin’s previous performance received a positive response.”

The choice of Lin -- an economics professor at National Taiwan University -- signals that Tsai intends to focus on boosting an economy that has stalled amid a broader slowdown on mainland China, the island’s largest export destination. The government in February lowered its growth forecast for the year to less than 1.5 percent, compared with an earlier projection of more than 2.3 percent.

Lin’s cabinet would be a reform cabinet rather than an economy-and-finance cabinet and would focus on communicating policies, Tsai said.

As finance minister under President Chen Shui-bian, the last DPP president, Lin won legislative approval for an alternative minimum tax on certain high-income earners. He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois and led the statistics bureau from 2000 to 2002. He’s executive director of the New Frontier Foundation, a DPP-affiliated research institution, and serves as an independent director on Pegatron Corp.’s board.

The DPP’s January 16 election victory gave the party control of both the presidency and the Legislative Yuan for the first time. Lin will take over after May 20, when Tsai is slated to be sworn in as the successor to President Ma Ying-jeou, of the KMT.

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