Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen taps TSMC’s Morris Chang to represent island at Apec

Lawrence Chung
·3-min read

Morris Chang, founder of the world’s biggest contract chip maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, will represent the self-ruled island in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit to be held online next week.

Chang’s participation means Taiwan expects to have the attendance of its leader, Tsai Ing-wen, dashed under pressure from Beijing.

On Tuesday, Tsai appointed the retired entrepreneur as her representative attending the online summit hosted by Malaysia next Friday.

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“Due to Covid-19, the 28th Apec economic summit will be held in the virtual form on November 20, and I hereby announce that [TSMC] founder Morris Chang will represent our country for the event,” Tsai said in Taipei.

Tsai said Chang would be charged with two tasks at this year’s summit: reiterating Taiwan’s willingness to join global efforts to stop the Covid-19 pandemic; and strengthening Taiwan’s external ties to consolidate the island’s position in global supply chains.

Tsai said the pandemic was a global issue that no individual country could conquer. It was only through global cooperation that challenges brought by Covid-19 could be tackled.

Tsai vows to bolster Taiwan’s global supply chain in semiconductors

She also said that in the wake of a global supply chain restructure, Taiwan needed to expand its links with upstream, midstream and downstream industries around the world.

“We need also to seek to sign bilateral and multilateral trade pacts with other countries and strengthen our [work] at Apec,” she added.

Next week’s meeting would be Chang’s fourth appearance at the event and the third during Tsai’s administration.

Because of Beijing’s opposition, Taiwan has not been able to send its leader to the annual summit even though it is an official member of Apec registered under the name Chinese-Taipei.

Local news reports said Tsai had hoped to attend the online event during the Covid-19 pandemic because the virtual format appeared to reduce any political sensitivity caused by her taking part.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in September that the island was a formal Apec member and there was no rule barring Taiwan from sending its leader to the summit.

The reports and the ministry’s comment triggered harsh criticism from Beijing in September that the island’s hope remained a dream because Taiwan was not a state and had no right sending its leader to the event.

Taiwan’s efforts to use its expertise in containing the pandemic to attend the World Health Assembly online event as an observer also failed because of Beijing’s opposition to the island’s participation, despite support by dozens of countries, including the United States and European and Latin American nations.

The World Health Organization voted to reject calls for Taiwan to attend the WHA event which began on Monday.

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