President praises APEC envoy for promoting policy at summit

President Tsai Ing-wen, right, praises her envoy to the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, James Soong, center, during a meeting with Taiwan's delegation to the APEC summit on Nov. 13, 2017. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday praised her envoy to the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting for helping leaders of other countries understand Taiwan’s key role in developing regional economic and trade links.

During a meeting with Taiwan’s delegation to the APEC summit and delegation leader James Soong (宋楚瑜), Tsai said Soong greatly helped advance the goals of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy through informal talks with countries targeted by the policy during the summit.

The policy is aimed at forging closer economic and trade ties with countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as with New Zealand and Australia.

Tsai also thanked Soong for serving as her envoy to the APEC summit for the second consecutive time and thanked the delegation for completing their mission.

During the APEC summit, Soong and other delegation members held bilateral or multilateral talks with leaders and representatives of APEC and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member nations, including those from the United States, Russia and Japan, Tsai said.

Taiwan’s delegates also exchanged greetings with Chinese officials, she said.

Taiwan is determined to support the establishment of multilateral and regional free trade agreements and enhance cooperation with countries in the region under the APEC framework, Tsai said.

She particularly highlighted a decision to establish a fund to promote women’s empowerment in Asia by Taiwan, the United States and Australia.

The decision was jointly announced by Soong, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, and Australian Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City Karen Lanyon, Tsai said.

The initiative embodies Taiwan’s efforts to promote gender equality and increase women’s participation in economic activities, Tsai added.

After meeting with the president, Soong told the media that during his 30-minute meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, Abe told him that all countries in Asia share a common hope for regional peace.

But when the issue of the latest developments in relations between Taiwan and China was raised, Abe did not give any suggestion on what Taiwan should do to address the cross-strait issue, he said.

Soong was responding to a press release issued by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday that cited Abe as saying that such matters should be addressed peacefully through direct dialogue.

People First Party lawmaker Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞), who served as an adviser to the delegation and was present at the meeting between Soong and Abe, said he did not hear the suggestion by Abe as stated in the Japanese statement.

By Yeh Su-ping and Evelyn Kao