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Taiwan attends APEC-ASEAN informal dialogue

2017/11/11 12:39:33

Taiwan's APEC envoy James Soong, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Russian President Vladimir Putin

Da Nang, Vietnam, Nov. 11 (CNA) Taiwan's representative on Friday expressed the country's intention to deepen cooperation and exchanges with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states in areas such as education, information and communications, health care, agriculture, infrastructure, disaster prevention and rescues.

James Soong (宋楚瑜), Taiwan's special envoy to the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic leaders meeting in Vietnam, expressed Taiwan's desire during the informal dialogue between APEC and ASEAN leaders, which was held as part of the annual summit for the first time.

The dialogue was aimed at providing an opportunity for exchanges between APEC and ASEAN members.

Among the 10 ASEAN countries, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia are not members of APEC.

At the meeting, Soong noted that Taiwan maintains close trade and investment ties with ASEAN and that 25 percent, or 29,000, of the foreign students studying in Taiwan are from ASEAN countries, according to National Development Council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶), who also attended the meeting.

As part of efforts to enhance its relations with ASEAN countries based on the principles of cooperation and reciprocity, Taiwan offers 5,000 scholarships for students from the region each year, in addition to customized courses tailored to their needs and corporate internship opportunities, Soong said.

Also, Taiwan is hoping to share with ASEAN countries its experiences in smart agriculture and the prevention of climate-related disasters and infectious diseases such as dengue fever and Zika virus, he said.

Soong, meanwhile, told the participating leaders that Taiwan will introduce a US$3.5 billion financing program to help promote infrastructure development in Southeast Asia, in the hope of enhancing the country's relations with the region.

He also expressed Taiwan's interest in participating in regional economic blocs, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

According to Chen, Soong had the opportunity to shake hands and exchange greetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) after the meeting.

Due to China's objections, Taiwan's presidents are not able to attend the annual APEC summit, a high profile gathering of leaders from 21 economies that include the United States, Japan, Russia and China. Taiwan has to appoint envoys to the leaders' summit in their presidents' place.

For this year's summit, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) chose Soong as Taiwan's envoy for the second consecutive year.

(By Elaine Hou and Y.F. Low)