Meet Taiwan’s New Government

Premier Lin Chuan

Meet the New Cabinet

With the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen on May 20, a new cabinet takes office. Below are some of the key players likely to be involved in areas of particular interest to the business community.

Premier Lin Chuan

Minister of Finance from the end of 2002 to the beginning of 2006, Lin previously headed the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS). An economist by training, Lin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana. Following his work in government, Lin served on the boards of several companies and headed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-linked New Frontier Foundation and Tsai Ing-wen’s Thinking Taiwan Foundation. The President-elect has praised him as a good problem solver who can be instrumental in carrying out social and political reforms in addition to guiding the economy and setting industrial policy.

Vice Premier Lin Hsi-yao

Lin is a career politician who served as vice commissioner of Taipei County (now New Taipei City) from 1999 to 2004 and acting-commissioner in 2004-2005, as well as minister without portfolio from 2006 to 2008. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a M.S. in environmental engineering from National Taiwan University.

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Minister of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung

Also known as C.K. Lee, the new minister earned his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University in theoretical and applied mechanics and is known for having invented modal sensors and actuators. He is a Distinguished Professor in both the Institute of Applied Mechanics and the Department of Engineering Science and Ocean Engineering at National Taiwan University and has held high-ranking positions in government and corporate research centers, including centers belonging to IBM in the United States and the National Science Council (forerunner to the Ministry of Science and Technology), Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), and the Institute for Information Industry (III) in Taiwan. He has also served as special adviser to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Ministry of Education.

Minister of Science and Technology Yang Hung-duen

President of National Sun Yat-sen University in Kao-hsiung since 2008, Yang is a physicist with a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. Yang has served with the National Science Council as well as Academia Sinica, and has taught at National Sun Yat-sen University.

Minister of Finance Sheu Yu-jer

His appointment as Minister of Finance is a promotion, as he was already serving as administrative deputy minister at the MOF. Sheu earned his bachelor’s degree at National Cheng-chi University, where he was a classmate of Premier-designate Lin Chuan, and a Master’s degree in law from Harvard University.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee

A career diplomat, Lee has represented the Republic of China around the world, including Canada, Australia, the European Union, and in the United States from 2004 to 2007 as head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington. Lee earned his Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in international relations and previously served as chief of the now-defunct Government Information Office and as vice minister of foreign affairs.

National Development Council Chen Tain-jy

No stranger to the NDC, Chen served as head of its forerunner, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) under the Ma administration in 2008-2009, and was also the head of the government-linked Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER) from 2003 to 2005. Chen earned his doctorate in economics from Pennsylvania State University  and between stints in government has been a professor of economics at National Taiwan University.

Minister of Health and Welfare Lin Tzou-yien

Lin obtained his medical degree from Taipei Medical University before serving as a fellow at  the University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas and at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After returning to Taiwan, he worked for the Chang Gung hospital network before entering government service in 2011 as deputy minister of the Department of Health, the forerunner to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. He later served as MOHW deputy minister and even briefly as acting minister in October 2014.

Council of Agriculture Tsao Chi-hung

The former Pingtung County commissioner caused some controversy before even officially taking up his role. Tsao’s statements to the media regarding the need to eventually allow the importation of U.S. pork containing trace amounts of a feed additive caused a stir, forcing the Tsai administration to soft-pedal the issue. Tsao earned his Master’s degree in education from National Kaohsiung Normal University.

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Environmental Protection Administration Lee Ying-yuan.

Lee brings a colorful past and extensive track record of government and party service to his new role as EPA head. A former minister of the Council of Labor Affairs (predecessor to the Ministry of Labor), Lee has also served as secretary-general of both the Executive Yuan and the DPP.  Lee earned his Ph.D. in health economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1988 but was barred from returning to Taiwan due to his anti-government activism. He returned illegally and was ultimately exonerated and later elected to the Legislative Yuan in 1996. He ran unsuccessfully as the DPP candidate for mayor of Taipei in 2002.

Financial Supervisory Commission Ding Kung-wha

Current head of the over-the-counter Taipei Market (formerly called the GreTai Securities Market), Ding previously served as a director of the Taiwan Futures Exchange Corp., chairman of the Taiwan Depository and Clearing Corp., and  vice chairman of the Securities and Futures Commission, a forerunner of the FSC. Ding earned his Master’s degree in public finance from National Chengchi University.

Minister of Labor Kuo Fan-yu

A graduate of National Chengchi University with a Master’s in diplomacy, Kuo has served as deputy minister of the MOL since February, 2014.  During the previous DPP administration of Chen Shui-bian, Kuo served in the Council of Labor Affairs, the forerunner to the MOL.

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Mainland Affairs Council Katharine Chang

Experienced diplomat Katharine Hsiao-yueh Chang is currently the chairperson of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs. She was a vice minister of foreign affairs from 2006 to 2007, and has served as Taiwan’s representative to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Australia. She earned her Master’s degree in international relations from Long Island University in New York.

Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan

In line with Tsai’s ambitions to develop a local defense industry, Feng, a retired air force general, is a former chairman of the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC), the recently privatized aerospace manufacturer that developed Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jet. He previously served as deputy chief of staff and deputy air force commander. Feng was educated at the University of Southern California’s School of Aviation Security, as well as Taiwan’s National Defense College and Air Force Academy.

Ministers without Portfolio

  • Wu Tsung-tsong, a professor of mechanical engineering at National Taiwan University and with significant experience in government-linked research and policy organizations, will be responsible for industrial policy with a particular focus on biotech and energy. Wu earned his Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University.
  • Shih Jun-ji, a former head of the Financial Supervisory Commission, will deal with economic and trade matters, and will head a task force responsible for guiding Taiwan’s prospective candidacy to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Shih earned his doctorate in economics from National Taiwan University, where he has been a professor.
  • Chang Ching-sen, vice minister of the Council for Economic Planning and Development from 2000 to 2008, holds a doctorate in civil engineering from National Taiwan University. He will deal with policies in the areas of transportation, land use, energy, the environment, and regional balance.
  • Hsu Jan-yau, a former minister of the DGBAS, will focus on issues related to budget and pensions.
  • Lin Mei-chu, the former deputy interior minister will serve as both minister without portfolio and head of the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission.
  • Lin Wan-I, a professor of social work at National Taiwan University, will be reprising his 2006-2007 role as minister without portfolio dealing with labor affairs, social welfare, ethnic issues, and long-term care.

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