Taiwanese President Sworn In As Predecessor Is Investigated

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Ma Ying-jeou took office as Taiwan's president Tuesday, urging rival China to open a new page of peace and prosperity in their long-strained relationship while rejecting unification with the mainland any time soon.

Ma's comments in his inaugural address were consistent with his long-standing policies of seeking greater economic engagement with Beijing without renouncing Taiwan's de facto sovereignty.

"The normalization of economic and cultural relations is the first step to a win-win situation," he said.

Earlier in the day, Ma, Vice President Vincent Siew and the new Cabinet took their oaths of office in a somber ceremony in the ornate presidential office building.

Shortly after the inauguration, Taiwanese prosecutors launched a corruption probe against Chen Shui-bian, Ma's predecessor.

The Supreme Prosecutors Office, which reports directly to the Supreme Court, said in a statement that Chen was being investigated for his role in the handling of a special presidential fund used to pursue Taiwan's foreign diplomacy.

"The office has assigned ... a seven-member investigative unit to take charge of the case," it said.

There was no immediate comment from Chen.

The investigation relates to the alleged embezzlement of 14.8 million New Taiwan dollars ($484,000). Chen's wife was indicted in December 2006 over the fund's handling. At the time, prosecutors said Chen could be indicted once he left office, ending his presidential immunity.