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U.S. backs Taiwan's full APEC membership: U.S. official

2018/09/26 11:37:59

Matthew J. Matthews, deputy assistant secretary and U.S. senior official for APEC

Taipei, Sept. 26 (CNA) The United States has always been supportive of Taiwan's full membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and is making sure its membership will not be compromised, a visiting U.S. official said Tuesday.

"The United States always is supportive of ensuring that Taiwan's full membership (in APEC) is never impeded, and I think there are many other economies who feel the same way and have the same reaction," Matthew J. Matthews, deputy assistant secretary and U.S. senior official for APEC, told CNA during an interview in Taipei.

Matthews was asked to comment on a report Tuesday citing Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) as saying that China was attempting to block Taiwan's participation in the annual 2018 APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea in November.

China has stepped up efforts to suppress Taiwan in the diplomatic sphere by luring away Taiwan's diplomatic allies and trying to block Taiwan's participation in international forums, including APEC, Wu charged in an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times.

He accused Beijing of trying to introduce its "one-China" principle, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, into APEC's operating framework, but did not offer any specifics.

Beijing's move, however, was rejected by the U.S. and Japan, the newspaper cited Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) as saying.

Though Matthews did not directly confirm that the U.S. and Japan blocked the proposal, the senior U.S. official did stress the ongoing support among Washington and other countries for Taiwan's full membership in APEC.

"APEC members are supportive of Taiwan because Taiwan is a constructive participant in APEC, and it adheres to its requirements within APEC," Matthews said.

Taiwan actually brings "very positive capabilities" to bear in the discussions and the work done in APEC, according to Matthews.

"What are we doing in APEC? We're basically trying to reduce barriers to trade and investment to create greater prosperity in the region, and Taiwan has a lot of best practices and a lot of capabilities that help us do that," he said.

Taiwan joined APEC as a full member under the name Chinese Taipei in 1991 and has played an active role in the annual meetings, seeking to enhance interaction with the other 20 member economies, according to Taiwan's Foreign Ministry.

During his visit to Taiwan that was scheduled to conclude later Wednesday, Matthews said he will meet with authorities here to discuss this year's APEC priorities and other trade and economic matters of mutual concern.

Some of the issues to be discussed include digital trade in a digital economy to ensure a free and open digital economy throughout the APEC region, he said.

The U.S. and Taiwan are also working on trade facilitation and empowering women economically within the APEC framework so that the benefit of economic activity can be spread as broadly as possible across APEC economies.

Matthews said he met with the Taiwanese delegation at the APEC Women and the Economy Forum held in early September in Papua New Guinea to discuss various topics.

One of the top priorities is for Taiwan and the U.S. to help Chile, the 2019 APEC host, on a special program for Women in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- the official said.

"We have a lot of specialists in that area in the United States, but so does Taiwan because Taiwan is a high-tech powerhouse, an engineering powerhouse, so we discussed how we can both work together to support Chile in making sure they have a very successful Women in STEM program next year," he said.

Matthews assumed his position as deputy assistant secretary of state for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and concurrently as senior official for APEC on June 16, 2015.

Matthews has also served in Taiwan twice, as deputy chief of American Institute in Taiwan's Economic Office (1998-2001) and as its science and technology officer (1989-1992).

(By Joseph Yeh)
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