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Former VP Chen Chien-jen warmly welcomed into Taiwan's ruling party

Chen reportedly joined Democratic Progressive Party on President Tsai Ing-wen’s recommendation in December

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Former Vice President Chen Chien-jen. (Facebook, Chen Chien-Jen photo)

Former Vice President Chen Chien-jen. (Facebook, Chen Chien-Jen photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Spokesperson Chou Chiang-chieh (周江杰) confirmed on Tuesday (Feb. 22) that former Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) has applied to join the party.

Mirror Media reported that Chen, who had not previously been affiliated with any party, submitted an application to join the DPP on Dec. 30 on the recommendation of President and DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). He is reportedly viewed by party leadership as a potential candidate who could “carry on down Tsai’s path” and has been called a flexible, “live chess piece” due to his background and reputation.

Though Chen rarely joined DPP or campaign activities prior to joining the party, he was in close contact with DPP and government officials, who often consulted him on political matters. These contacts increased since the global outbreak of COVID-19, which saw him and Central Epidemic Command Center head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) work together on multiple occasions to trace the spread of the virus in Taiwan.

In response to reports of Chen Chien-jen’s membership, Chou Chiang-chieh said the party welcomed his application, especially considering his support for Tsai during his term as vice president and the suggestions he made to the government as a public health expert during the pandemic, according to UDN. “The DPP always welcomes people from various fields who support President Tsai’s political views and the DPP’s values to help strengthen Taiwan,” he said.

As for whether Chen will become the ruling party's candidate for Taipei mayor, Chou said, “The Election Strategy Council has begun the nomination process... the DPP will definitely nominate the most appropriate candidate for the election at the end of the year.”

Chen Chien-jen received his doctor of science in human genetics and epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University and served as the head of Taiwan’s Department of Health from 2003-2005 and the National Science Council from 2006-2008. Before becoming Tsai’s running mate in the 2016 presidential election, Chen served as a vice president of Academia Sinica.