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MAC deputy chief set for SEF role: report

TAIPEI--Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), deputy chief of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會), will serve concurrently as deputy head of the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF, 海基會), the MAC said yesterday.

Chang will fill the position left vacant by SEF Vice Chairman and Secretary-General Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉), who served his last day on Wednesday, according to the MAC.

The MAC and Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO, 國台辦) established a communication platform last year, paving the way for a meeting later this month between their respective chiefs Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and Zhang Zhijun (張志軍).

Chang has a major role in coordinating the details of the planned meeting, the United Evening News reported Thursday, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter.

After he assumes the concurrent post as SEF vice chairman and secretary-general, he is expected to integrate the two main cross-strait communication channels — between the SEF and its Chinese counterpart the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and between the MAC and TAO, according to the report.

The SEF and ARATS are semi official bodies set up to handle bilateral affairs in the absence of official ties between Taiwan and China.

Since Kao tendered his resignation in January, speculations about his successors have been rife, with Chang tipped as the top candidate.

Since Chang will be holding two positions, SEF Deputy Secretary-General Maa Shaw-chang will be promoted to deputy chairman also, to share the workload, according to the MAC.

Chang formerly served in the National Security Council. He joined the People First Party (PFP) in 2000 and worked closely with its chairman James Soong, serving as director of the PFP's policy center.

In 2005, Chang arranged a meeting between Soong and Hu Jintao, general secretary of Chinese Communist Party, after communicating with then TAO head Chen Yunlin.

He has been working at the MAC since 2012.

Chang's first task upon assumption of the SEF post will be to prepare for the 10th round of cross-strait talks, said the United Evening News.

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