AP Photo/Wally Santana

Taiwan’s ex-finance minister Lin Chuan appointed premier by President-elect Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen named former Finance Minister Lin Chuan as Taiwan’s next premier on 15 March. This move by Tsai has indicated that Taiwan’s economy is a top priority. Both Tsai and Lin will take office on 20 May when Tsai is sworn in as successor to current President Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT).

From 2002 to 2006, Lin served as Finance Minister of Taiwan, where he won legislative approval for an alternative minimum tax on certain high-income earners. During Tsai’s presidential campaign, Lin also aided Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the drafting of various economic proposals. Before his role as Finance Minister, Lin served as head of the directorate-general of budget, accounting and statistics.

As premier, Lin will be tasked with rejuvenating Taiwan’s slowing economy as well as improving Relations with China. Nevertheless, Chinese President Xi Jinping has stated earlier this month that Beijing insists Tsai approve of the claim that Taiwan and China are part of a single Chinese nation.

With regards to the naming of Lin Chuan as premier, Tsai stands by her decision, stating that there was positive and appreciative reception to Lin’s previous performance as Finance Minister and that her and Lin worked well together, with both agreeing on the concept of “government governance.” She also noted that Lin was a capable individual who understood clearly her roadmap for the country.

Lin holds a position as an economics professor at National Taiwan University and a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois. He is also executive director of the New Frontier Foundation, a DPP-affiliated research institution, and serves as an independent director on Pegatron Corp.’s board.  

This move by Tsai has been seen as a suggestion that she has intentions of boosting Taiwan’s export-dependent economy which had been hit by global economic weakness. It also highlights Tsai’s future focus as a reform-minded government. Tsai has stated that Lin’s Cabinet would be a reform Cabinet rather than an economy-and-finance one.

John Chiu, chief investment officer of Fuh Hwa Securities Investment Trust Co., has stated that “Lin as a premier should be positive for Taiwan,” noting Lin as in individual who “understands the economy.”