BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- A series of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings are currently underway in Vladivostok, the largest city in Russia's Far East.
APEC is a forum which facilitates economic cooperation among 21 nations and regions in Asia-Pacific.
With its 21 members accounting for around 50 percent of the world's total GDP, and 40 percent of both the world's population and world trade, APEC is working on areas such as trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation, human security, and economic and technical cooperation, aiming to achieve sustainable growth and prosperity in the region.
In 1989, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke broached the idea of establishing a forum for promoting sustainable economic growth and regional cooperation within the Asia-Pacific region.
The proposal was supported by the United States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and other countries in the region. The first APEC Ministerial Meeting was held later that year in Canberra, Australia.
APEC is the only inter-governmental organization in the world operating on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue and equal respect for the views of all participants.
In November 1991, the third Ministerial Meeting was held in the South Korean capital of Seoul with the approval of the "Seoul Declaration," which finalized APEC's objectives of developing and strengthening the open multilateral trading system, and reducing barriers to trade in goods, services and investment.
China joined APEC together with Hong Kong -- later called China's Hong Kong -- and Chinese Taipei in November 1991 because APEC recognizes the "one-China" principle and respects the differences between sovereign states and regional economies.
In 1993, APEC established a secretariat in Singapore, which provides support and services for the forum's activities at various levels.
APEC's institutional framework includes the Economic Leaders' Meeting, the Ministerial Meeting, the Senior Officials' Meeting, a committee and special working groups.
APEC currently has 21 member economies -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, China's Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.
It has three observers, namely the ASEAN Secretariat, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council and the Pacific Islands Forum.