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September 22, 2017

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Gov't concerned over China's Taiwan affairs staff reshuffle

TAIPEI -- The government is concerned about China's upcoming reshuffle of its Taiwan affairs staff because whether there is good chemistry or consensus among the new officials could affect future dialogue across the Taiwan Strait, an official said Thursday.

Tsai De-sheng, director-general of the National Security Bureau (NSB), told lawmakers during a closed-door meeting of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee that seven of the 10 key figures in China's Taiwan affairs team will be reshuffled in the country's forthcoming power transition.

While China's top leaders are still mulling whether to replace the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office under its State Council, two of the office's four deputy heads will definitely be replaced, said Taiwan's intelligence chief.

Moreover, Tsai went on, Chen Yunlin, president of the quasi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and China's top negotiator with Taiwan, will soon retire.

"The issues of whether the new members of China's Taiwan affairs team will have any say in Beijing's policy formulation and whether they see eye to eye on dealings with Taiwan are worthy of our concern," Tsai said.

During the session, ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang asked Tsai whether China's foreign policy and its policy toward Taiwan would change if its incumbent Vice President Xi Jinping indeed succeeded President Hu Jintao.

Tsai said there should be no major changes in China's Taiwan policy following its once-in-a-decade power transition, which will begin at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) next month.

"Xi may be more versed in Taiwan affairs than most of his predecessors, but he is not necessarily a pro-Taiwan figure because he is more concerned about the Chinese Communist Party's interests," Tsai said.

Moreover, he said, Xi could take a tougher response than his predecessors if any foreign country crosses China's red lines.

Tsai also predicted that Hu is likely to follow the precedent set by his predecessor Jiang Zemin and continue to head the Communist Party's military commission for a certain period of time.

Jiang remained at the helm of the military commission for two years after handing over the presidency to Hu in 2003.

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