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Cablegate: Taiwan's Next Premier Liu Chao-Hsuan: A Profile

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DE RUEHIN #0508/01 1020917
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 110917Z APR 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8665
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8149
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 9511
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 9822
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2605
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 1167
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9386
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1984
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6573
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 000508

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TW
SUBJECT: TAIWAN'S NEXT PREMIER LIU CHAO-HSUAN: A PROFILE


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Soochow University President Liu Chao-hsuan
appears slated to head the new cabinet after president-elect
Ma Ying-jeou is inaugurated on May 20. Over the past week
local newspapers have run front-page stories saying Liu was
offered and accepted the premiership, edging out other
contenders such as KMT vice chairman P.K. Chiang (Pin-kung).
Ma's advisers and Liu himself initially refused to comment on
the story. Media reports on April 11 say Ma's office
confirmed Liu will be appointed premier with a formal
announcement expected "in the immediate future." Some
speculate that may be sometime later next week after vice
president-elect Vincent Siew returns from his trip to the
Boao Forum in Hainan, China.

Why Liu?
--------

2. (SBU) Liu's administrative skills, experience, and close
personal ties to Siew and to Ma himself are said to have
distinguished him as the best choice for the premiership.
Liu served as vice premier under Siew from 1997-2000 and,
according to press reports, had suggested Ma take Siew as his
running mate last year. Some party leaders reportedly
favored P.K. Chiang for the premiership, but at 76 years many
view him as simply too old for the job. Chiang, moreover, is
also thought to have "strained" relations with Vincent Siew,
who has said publicly that the ideal premier would be someone
he could work with on improving the economy. Chiang is now a
candidate to head the Straits Exchange Foundation, the
quasi-government body that handles cross-Strait affairs.

3. (SBU) Liu has a reputation for being a clean government
official and experienced technocrat, respected for his
coordination abilities, intelligence, and character. Many
say his past experience as vice premier and transportation
minister (1993-1996) will help the Ma administration move
quickly on the economy, which was a key focus of Ma's
campaign. Having served on the National Science Council
(1979-1982; 1984-1987), Liu is also familiar with Taiwan's
scientific research community and high-tech industries.

Some Naysayers
--------------

4. (SBU) Critics say Liu, who was born in Hunan Province,
China, will open up the Ma administration to political attack
from the DPP for putting a mainlander in charge of Taiwan's
internal affairs. During his time as vice premier, Liu also
acquired a reputation for being inflexible in dealing with
the Legislative Yuan (LY), which could complicate Ma's
efforts to keep the KMT legislative caucus in check. Others
charge Liu's reputation has been tarnished by suspicion of an
extramarital affair.

Personal Information
--------------------

5. (SBU) Liu is the second youngest of six brothers, all of
whom have earned Ph.D. degrees from the U.S. or Canada. Most
of those family members are reportedly U.S. citizens living
in the U.S. Liu paid his way through college by writing
martial arts fiction under the pseudonym Shan Kuan Ding, with
some of his more famous works titled "Lonely Sword" and
"Valley of Quicksand." Some suggest this is one more
similarity with president-elect Ma, who himself reportedly
wrote one or two martial arts works of fiction as a student.

Appendix: Curriculum Vitae
---------------------------

6. (SBU) Present Positions: President, Soochow University,
August 2004-; Vice Chairman, KMT National Policy Foundation,
2000-.

7. (SBU) Previous Positions: Vice Premier, 1997-2000;
Chairman, National Science Council, 1996-1997; Minister of
Transportation and Communications, 1993-1996; President,
National Tsinghua University, 1987-1993; Vice Chairman,

TAIPEI 00000508 002 OF 002


National Science Council, 1984-1987; Professor and Dean,
College of Science, National Tsinghua University, 1982-1984;
Director, Planning and Coordination Division, National
Science Council, 1979-1982; Professor, National Tsinghua
University, 1975-1979; Associate Professor, National Tsinghua
University, 1971-1975.

8. (SBU) Political Affiliation: Member, KMT.

9. (SBU) Education: B.S. in chemistry, National Taiwan
University, Taipei, 1965; M.S. in chemistry, University of
Sherbrooke, Canada, 1968; Ph.D. in chemistry, University of
Toronto, Canada, 1971.

10. (SBU) DPOB: May 10, 1943, Hunan Province, China.
Family: Married to Chien Ming-sai; 3 children.
YOUNG

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