The Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) on Thursday formally accepted the resignation of its Chairman, Chiang Pin-kung, and elected Lin Join-sane as its new head. Lin will act as the top negotiator between the SEF and its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). Founded in 1990 and 1991 respectively, the SEF and the ARATS are the non-governmental organizations authorized by Taiwan and the mainland to engage in talks regarding cross-Strait exchanges. Chiang, who has headed the SEF since May 2008 and is turning 80, announced he was stepping down last week due to his age, physical condition and future career plans. His resignation has been accepted by Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou. During the period that Chiang chaired the SEF, the SEF and the ARATS held eight rounds of talks, resulting in the signing of 18 cross-Strait agreements, including the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement that has greatly boosted mainland-Taiwan trade and investment. In the last round of talks, held in August in Taipei, Chiang and his mainland counterpart Chen Yunlin, president of the ARATS, signed two cross-Strait agreements, including a long-awaited investment protection pact.