New MAC head sees 'great challenge' ahead

Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Hsia (???) said Monday that taking over as head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) will be a great challenge, and he anticipated calling on preceding MAC chiefs to familiarize himself with his new job. Hsia was named to the post after the Executive Yuan said Monday that it had approved the resignation of incumbent MAC chief Wang Yu-chi (???). The 64-year-old Hsia is entering a new realm, having spent most of his career as a career diplomat before he was appointed deputy minister of defense in 2013. His former posts include deputy minister of foreign affairs, Taiwan's representative to Indonesia and head of Taiwan's representative office in New York. During his more than three years in Indonesia, he actively promoted bilateral trade and cultural and educational exchanges between Taiwan and Indonesia, especially the joint development of the Morotai island project and an industrial park in Jakarta. The Executive Yuan appointed him deputy defense minister in 2013, reasoning that although he lacked a military background, it wanted to take advantage of his diplomatic experience to facilitate military procurements and military diplomacy. Turning from diplomatic and defense issues to setting policy on China, he will immediately face the thorny issue of China's planned opening of new flight routes in the Taiwan Strait, routes that Taiwan objects to for flight safety and sovereignty reasons. Beijing has said that it would put the new routes into practice on March 5. Hsia will also have to address cross-strait economic cooperation and cross-strait regional economic integration. Wang tendered his resignation on Feb. 10 after prosecutors decided not to indict his former deputy Chang Hsien-yao (???) for allegedly leaking national secrets to China. Wang forced Chang to quit last August on suspicions that he had handed over state secrets to Beijing. (By Lu Hsin-hui, Yin Chun-chieh and Lilian Wu)