Taiwan an indispensable part of world supply chain: APEC envoy Morris Chang

The TSMC founder anticipates dealing mainly with economic issues during the APEC Summit, but says he will not shy from 'non-economic' issues

Taiwan’s envoy to APEC Morris Chang speaks at a press conference on Nov. 12 before traveling to Papua New Guinea for the summit (Source: Office of the

Taiwan’s envoy to APEC Morris Chang speaks at a press conference on Nov. 12 before traveling to Papua New Guinea for the summit (Source: Office of the

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s envoy to APEC Morris Chang (張忠謀) said on Monday, as an economic leader representing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), he anticipates focusing on economic issues during the APEC Summit. Yet he also pledged not to evade political or diplomatic questions should they be brought up.

With the APEC Leaders’ Week opening on Monday in Papua New Guinea, the Taiwanese delegation to APEC held a press conference at the Presidential Office this morning.

As an entrepreneur, Chang anticipates dealing mainly with economic issues during the APEC Summit. However, depending on the situation, he said he “will not avoid non-economic questions.”

“APEC is an organization about economics, not about politics or foreign affairs,” remarked Chang at the beginning of the press conference.

Chang, who is the founder of the computer chip manufacturer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (臺積電), was named in October as Taiwan’s special envoy to this year’s APEC Summit.

“I am the leader’s representative of Chinese Taipei,” said Chang on Monday, referring the designated name Taiwan has used in international organizations and sports events over the years.

It has been 12 years since Chang served as Taiwan’s envoy to APEC, last serving for the first time in 2006. Chang remarked Taiwan has experienced “many changes than he had earlier expected” over the intervening years.

Taiwan, despite being a middle-scale economy, is a “critical” and “indispensable” link to the global supply chain, said Chang, adding that Taiwan is very willing to be part of the bilateral or multilateral discussions in seeking solutions to the challenges facing today’s digital economy.

While meeting with Chang prior to the press conference, President Tsai reiterated that Chang is “definitely the best candidate to serve as the APEC envoy, eligible for representing Taiwan to exchange ideas with world leaders.”

► President Tsai Ing-wen meets with Morris Chang on Nov. 13 (Source: Office of the President, Taiwan)

Asked about what he would like to say should he have the chance to meet briefly with other leaders or representatives, such as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, or Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Chang said he will socialize naturally with them and discuss different issues depending on whom he speaks with, “but it also depends on their attitudes towards us.”

Earlier Japanese media reported that Chang has plans to meet with Prime Minister Abe during the summit to talk about the possibility of Taiwan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP, also known as CPTTP), Chang said “I don’t need to deliver such a message. Everybody knows that Taiwan is interested in joining CPTTP. It is about how we may try to discuss the question of “what will it take (for Taiwan to join CPTTP)” within limited time, added Chang.

The week’s event will lead up to the Economic Leaders’ Meeting on Nov. 18, in which 21 leaders and representatives of the APEC member states or economies will convene.

Echoing the theme of this year’s APEC Summit, “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future,” Chang said he will urge APEC leaders and representatives during the meeting to discuss how the world can tackle the four challenges facing the present digital economy, including subsidy policies having a potential impact on market economy, lack of respect for intellectual property, high tariffs, and lack of awareness to preserve privacy.

We will point out these problems and call for possible solutions through bilateral or multilateral negotiations, especially under the APEC structure, added Chang.

The Taiwanese delegation of about 80 includes Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶), minister of the National Development Council, John Deng (鄧振中), minister without portfolio and head of the Office of Trade Negotiations, Kelly Hsieh (謝武樵), deputy foreign minister, as well as Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥), deputy secretary-general to the National Security Council.

Taiwan joined APEC in 1991. However, due to pressure from Beijing, which has been attempting to diminish the country’s international presence over the years, Taiwan has participated in APEC under the name of Chinese Taipei with a special envoy named every year to represent the president who is usually prevented from attending the APEC Summit.