TAIPEI, Taiwan - Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih was sent to Singapore to assist in administrative preparation and communication with the foreign press during last weekend's historic meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister David Lin said yesterday.
Lin told local media that a large number of global media visited Singapore to cover the historic meeting held Saturday so he decided to send Shih to the country to offer administrative assistance and to facilitate in the government's communication with foreign media.
Shih did not take personal leave to go to Singapore as reported by a local newspaper. She was there under official duty, he stressed.
Lin added that the Ma-Xi meeting was organised by the Mainland Affairs Council while his ministry was only offering administrative assistance.
He denied the Chinese-language Liberty Times report yesterday that claimed the Presidential Office was not aware beforehand that Shih would be join the event.
The Liberty Times report said Shih visited Singapore "on vacation" so that she could "take credit" for making the historic meeting possible.
Quoting unidentified high-ranking sources from the Presidential Office, the newspaper said officials were not happy with Shih's presence at the Ma-Xi meeting since a diplomat is not supposed to show up during meetings between leaders of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Meanwhile, asked to comment, Shih, who was currently not in Taiwan, told the Chinese-language Apple Daily via text message yesterday that she was sent to Singapore a day before the Saturday meeting by Minister Lin.
She did not take part or was involved directly with the Ma-Xi meeting and she was only there to help facilitate the Taiwanese delegation's communication with foreign media and to make sure the foreign ministry properly handled the related administrative issues regarding the meeting.
Shih was a formerly Taiwan's top envoy to Singapore from 2009 to 2012 before she returned to take up the vice minister post.
The ministry has already announced that she will take over as the new representative to Austria next January after serving four years as vice minister.
Her position will be filled by Leo Lee, Taiwan's representative to Sweden.