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Taiwan's Ma aims to boost image with cabinet shuffle

President has been battered by poor handling of typhoon Morakot. His government's focus on good relations with China is unlikely to change.

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Taiwan formally replaced most of its Cabinet Thursday in a bid to appease public anger over its response to last month's deadly Typhoon Morakot.

The mass resignations followed Premier Liu Chao-shiuan's surprise announcement Monday that he would quit. On Thursday, the defense, economics, and foreign ministers and other officials stepped down and their replacements were sworn in.

Analysts say the new lineup is unlikely to change the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou's cross-strait or economic policies. Rather, the shakeup was damage control by a president who's seen his approval ratings plummet.

"In order to save the king, you have to give up some generals," said Shih Cheng-feng, a political analyst at National Dong Hwa University. "I don't see much fundamental policy change."

The reshuffle comes after weeks of scathing criticism that the government had a slow and disorganized response to flooding and landslides in the wake of typhoon Morakot. Some 700 people died, many buried alive under avalanches of mud that were triggered by torrential rains.

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