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Page last updated at 04:41 GMT, Tuesday, 20 May 2008 05:41 UK

Taiwan's new leader takes office

Ma Ying-jeou
Mr Ma wants to improve trade and transport ties with China

Ma Ying-jeou has been sworn in as Taiwan's new president.

Mr Ma, 57, won the presidential election in March with a comfortable majority and has promised to improve relations with China.

He said his goal was maintaining regional stability and called for both China and Taiwan to create "a new chapter of peace".

He takes over from Chen Shui-bian, whose moves towards formal independence had angered China.

'Peacemaker'

Mr Ma was sworn in for a four-year term during a ceremony at Taipei's ornate presidential office.

The Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate has pledged to improve trade and transport ties with Taiwan's giant neighbour.

And he called for more dialogue with Beijing.

"Seeking cross-strait peace and maintaining regional stability is our goal and Taiwan still strives to become a peacemaker in the world," he said.

"I sincerely hope the two sides can make the best use of this historic chance to create a new chapter of peace and prosperity."

Vice President Vincent Siew, 69, was sworn in after Mr Ma.

Mr Siew has already met Chinese President Hu Jintao in the highest-level contact between the two governments since their post-civil war split in 1949.

The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Taipei says the inauguration marks a new chapter in Taiwan's short democratic history.

She says Mr Ma's election reflects the Taiwanese people's desire for change and a new direction.

The new leader has promised that there will be no negotiations on unification with Beijing during his presidency.

Mr Ma has said he wants to be a peacemaker and not a troublemaker, a dig, our correspondent says, at his predecessor Mr Chen.


SEE ALSO
Historic China-Taiwan talks held
12 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwanese hope of new China chapter
23 Mar 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan victor promises China ties
23 Mar 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Choppy waters between China and Taiwan
22 Mar 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Ma Ying-jeou
22 Mar 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Taiwan
22 Mar 08 |  Country profiles

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