Taiwan president-elect touts new cabinet, mum on China ties

Taiwan president-elect Tsai Ing-wen attends a news conference announcing former finance minister Lin Chuan as premier, in Taipei, Taiwan March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu (Reuters)

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan president-elect Tsai Ing-wen pledged on Tuesday her first cabinet would focus on the economic and financial issues, but avoided discussing China following a barrage of warnings directed at her by Beijing over the past week or so. Tsai, from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was elected by a landslide in January but does not assume office until May. She formally announced former finance minister Lin Chuan as her premier, describing him as a good choice. "I assure you that Lin's cabinet will not only be a financial and economic cabinet, but also a cabinet with execution and communication ability," she told reporters. She left soon afterwards without taking questions from the media and made no mention of China during her formal remarks. Tsai's election came at a tricky time for Taiwan's export-dependent economy, which barely emerged from recession in the fourth quarter. China, with which her DPP has an uneasy relationship, is Taiwan's top trading partner and Taiwan's favorite investment destination. China considers self-ruled Taiwan a wayward province, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after the Chinese civil war. Beijing has repeatedly warned against any moves towards independence since wins by Tsai and her DPP in presidential and parliamentary elections. Top officials and leaders have lined up to offer warnings to the proudly democratic island since China's annual meeting of parliament began earlier this month. Chinese President Xi Jinping said last week China would never allow the historical tragedy of Taiwan being "split" off from the rest of the country to happen again, warning the island against any moves towards formal independence. Japan ruled Taiwan as a colony for about five decades until the end of World War Two. China's last dynasty, the Qing, had ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895 after losing the first Sino-Japanese war. Tsai has said she would maintain peace with China, and Chinese state-run media have also noted her pledges to maintain the "status quo" with China. (Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Paul Tait)