Who is Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan’s new Prime Minister?

Chen Chien-jen is to become Taiwan’s new premier, President Tsai Ing-wen announced on Friday morning. Announcing the appointment in Taipei on Friday, President Tsai said, “Today I announced that former VP Chen Chien-jen will take over as head of the cabinet from Su Tseng-chang.” The president expressed hope in the new cabinet led by Chen Chien-jen and said that the year 2023 will be critical for Taiwan’s development.

The move comes as part of a cabinet reshuffle following heavy losses for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at local elections last year.Former Premier Su Tseng-chang submitted his resignation last week along with that of his cabinet ahead of the widely-expected government reorganization. Chen, 71, is a devout Catholic who served as vice president during Tsai’s first term in office, from 2016-2020.

The DPP suffered heavy losses at local polls in November. Su, 75, who has been the premier since 2019, first offered to quit following the results of the November elections, but was persuaded by the president to stay. He was one of the initial founders of the DPP, which was established in Taiwan in 1986 when martial law was still in effect. Taiwan is now preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections in early 2024.

On Thursday, President Tsai appointed deputy foreign minister Tsai Ming-yen as the new head of the National Security Bureau. The appointment is also viewed as a part of the ongoing government reshuffle amid growing military threats from China. China has been ramping up military and political pressure to try and get Taiwan to accept Beijing’s sovereignty, including staging war games near the island in August. Taiwan’s government rejects China’s claims and says only the island’s 23 million people can decide their future.

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