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Taiwan's defense minister Feng stepping down

2018/02/22 23:23:38

Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬)/CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 23 (CNA) Taiwan's Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) is to be replaced by National Security Council Secretary-General Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發) in a cabinet reshuffle that is likely to be announced Friday.

Sources told CNA that the reshuffle will also see Labor Minister Lin Mei-chu (林美珠), who has tendered her resignation due to health reasons, replaced by Deputy Labor Minister Su Li-chiung (蘇麗瓊).

Feng has been serving as defense minister since President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) inauguration in May 2016. His stepping down comes amid increased military moves by China's fighter jets and naval vessels near Taiwan, including exercises encircling the island from the air and the sea.

Shortly after Feng became defense minister, there was also an accidental firing of a missile into the Taiwan Strait, resulting in the death of a Taiwanese fisherman. Human error as well as insufficient oversight and unclear standard operating procedures were blamed for the incident.

The new defense minister Yen is a retired two-star Army general and decorated officer who had served various important posts in the military, including as chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and vice defense minister.

During his post as head of the Kaohsiung-based 8th Army Corps responsible for the defense of southern Taiwan, Yen and his troops had performed well in the post-disaster relief of Typhoon Morakot in 2009, earning high praise from then-President Ma Ying-jeou before his promotion to deputy chief of the General Staff two years later.

Yen has served as the de facto head of the NSC since May 2017.

After leaving the current job, Feng will assume the post as president of a soon-to-be-launched think tank titled "Institute for National Security Studies" (國防安全研究院), according to the sources.

Founded by the defense ministry, the semi-official organization will focus on the study of the Chinese military after it is established in May, according to Taiwan's military.

A graduate of the Air Force Academy in 1967, Feng is a former Air Force fighter jet pilot and Air Force deputy commander.

(By Lu Hsin-hui, Wen Kui-hsiang, Yeh Su-ping, Joe Yeh and Shih