TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed regret Thursday after the Chilean government announced a day earlier that the South American country will not host the 2019 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum due to ongoing social unrest there.
Describing the Chilean government’s decision as “extremely regrettable,” Tsai said the annual APEC meet is an important international dialogue mechanism and platform for economic issues, as well as the most important international organization for Taiwan, which is a full member.
She said she hopes all APEC members will jointly take some remedial measures to make sure their efforts over the past year can be shown to the world.
Chile was scheduled to hold the annual event Nov. 11-17 in its capital, Santiago.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, however, announced Wednesday that his country will no longer host either APEC or the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) in November and December, respectively.
Protests have been raging throughout Santiago and other major cities for nearly two weeks, sparked by a hike in subway fares.
The president said his main concern is trying to resume public order. The latest death toll stands at 20 with casualties estimated in the thousands.
It is the first time the important economic summit has been canceled since its debut in 1993.
Tsai said she has asked government branches related to APEC affairs to continue to promote exchanges with other APEC members via ministerial-level multilateral dialogues to showcase the nation’s strengths and make contributions to the international community, despite the summit’s cancellation.
Commenting on the issue, foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said it is understandable that the Chilean government made the decision and expressed hope that social order in the South American country will soon be restored.
Founded in 1989, APEC is an inter-governmental forum for 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Taiwan joined APEC as a full member under the name Chinese Taipei in 1991.
Retired entrepreneur Morris Chang (張忠謀) was named earlier this month as Taiwan’s representative to the APEC leaders’ meeting, the second year in a row that he has been given the job.
By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Joseph Yeh