World

Pro-independence premier for Taiwan

TAIPEI: Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen named a pro-independence city mayor as her new premier yesterday.

China sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory though they split almost 70 years ago.

Despite being a fully fledged democracy, the island has never declared a formal split from the mainland.

Beijing has said any Taiwanese move towards a declaration of independence would prompt a military response.

Incoming premier William Lai is the mayor of the southern city of Tainan, a stronghold of Ms Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party.

He has repeatedly stated his support for Taiwan's independence in media interviews and city council meetings.

Ms Tsai said she hoped he would deliver "good results" and praised him for being in tune with public opinion.

Mr Lai will take up the position on Friday, after Ms Tsai on Monday accepted the resignation of unpopular premier Lin Chuan, a move seen as an attempt to revive public support for her administration.

The government's popularity has been hit by a series of controversial policies, from holiday cuts to pension reforms, as well as by worsening relations with China.

Harvard-educated Mr Lai won praise for handling the aftermath of an earthquake last year that killed 116 people.

Earlier this year, he seemed to temper his pro-independence message by saying he defined relations between Taiwan and China as "between friends", though headvocates a split. - AFP

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