Siew chosen as Nationalists' vice presidential candidate in Taiwan

Taiwan's opposition presidential nominee Ma Ying-jeou has picked an economic specialist who has promoted close trade ties with rival China as his running mate in next year's elections.
Vincent Siew, 68, served as economics minister and premier before the Nationalist Party lost power to President Chen Shui-bian's Democratic Progressive Party in 2000.
"I've decided to pick Mr. Siew as my running mate," Ma told a news conference Saturday, a day before the Nationalists hold a convention to formally approve the party's nominations for the March 2008 race.
"Former Premier Siew has had 30 years of experience running the nation's trade and economic affairs ... and had helped make Taiwan a major trading power," Ma said.
"I hope he could act as the chief strategist ... in finding a way out for Taiwan's stalled economy," he added.
Ma's first choice for vice president was Legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng, but he declined the offer ostensibly because of the pressure of his job.
However, some analysts said Wang had refused because he doubted that Ma could defeat DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh.
Siew was premier between 1997 and 2000 and served as economics minister from 1990 to 1993. Since leaving office, he has formed a private foundation to promote closer trade ties with China, accusing Chen's administration of failing to come up with a strategy to deal with the mainland's growing economic power.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, but China still claims the island a part of its own territory that will be retaken by force if necessary.
The independence-leaning Chen has refused to loosen control over trade and investment with China, fearing close ties could reduce the island's space for maneuvering in future political negotiations with the mainland.
But businesspeople say the trade restrictions have hurt their global competitiveness.