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Political veteran Soong rumored to be tapped to head Taiwan's SEF

People First Party Chairman Soong, Xi Jinping chatted briefly on sidelines of 2016 APEC summit

James Soong. 

James Soong.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With the chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), David Lee (李大維), being appointed as the new secretary general of the Presidential Office on Monday (Aug. 3), China-friendly political veteran James Soong (宋楚瑜) is reportedly likely to lead the semi-official organization, which was established to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

Lee took over the top job at the Presidential Office when Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) resigned after his nephew become embroiled in a Legislative Yuan scandal, with three sitting lawmakers being held incommunicado on Tuesday (Aug. 4).

James Soong, chairman of the People First Party (PFP) and five-time presidential candidate, is familiar with China affairs and was appointed special envoy to Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summits by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in 2016 and 2017.

Soong made several official visits to China and Hong Kong as the PFP head over the past few years. At the 2016 APEC summit, Soong and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) chatted briefly on the sidelines rather than at a formal bilateral meeting.

In an interview with Mirror Media last November, Soong revealed that Tsai had offered to appoint a PFP official to a top position in the SEF but that the party had declined the gesture.

When asked about Soong's rumored appointment by the media on Tuesday, Premier Su Tseng-chan (蘇貞昌) merely said he believes the president will make the best decision. Speaking on Tsai's choice for secretary general to the Presidential Office, Su said that Lee is a good fit for the job given his work experience.

In the 2020 legislative elections, the PFP won less than five percent of party votes and failed to secure a seat at the Legislative Yuan.