In this April 12, 2017 photo, Taiwan's "digital minister" Audrey Tang speaks during an interview in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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Taiwan's "digital minister" Audrey Tang, a computer prodigy and entrepreneur who taught herself programming at age 8, says she's a "civic hacker," who like a locksmith uses specialized skills to help rather than harm.Appointed by leaders hoping to better connect with young voters who helped sweep independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen into office last year, 35-year-old Tang is using her expertise to more directly involve the public in policymaking, and to counter "fake news". Keeping the public engaged is crucial given Taiwan's status as a self-ruled democracy of 23 million people that separated from the Chinese mainland amid civil war in 1949 .Tang's digital-friendly stance includes allowing top-level computer game players in Taiwan to serve an alternative form of the island's compulsory military service.Tang is Taiwan's first transgender government minister, a rarity especially in East Asia, where outspoken conservative groups often publicly condemn sexual minorities.Tang's involvement in politics took off during Taiwan's Sunflower movement of 2014, when she became well-known for helping officials interact with citizens using the internet during the protests against a trade agreement with Beijing.
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