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June 29, 2017

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Shih defends performance as envoy in Singapore

TAIPEI--Vice Foreign Minister Vanessa Shih (史亞平) again defended yesterday her performance as Taiwan's representative to Singapore, rebutting reports that negotiations on a bilateral trade pact were suspended due to her ineptitude.

"This is false," she contended during a hearing at the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee. She added that bilateral negotiations are in fact ongoing.

Good news on the bilateral trade pact, called the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP), is expected to be announced in the near future, she went on.

Taiwan and Singapore began negotiating on the economic partnership agreement in 2010.

She said "it could take two to three years" before the negotiations can be completed.

Fielding questions from lawmakers, Shih denied that she had offended the Singaporean government while serving as Taiwan's top envoy to the city-state between 2009 and 2012.

News reports in recent months said Shih put bilateral ties in jeopardy by displaying the Republic of China flag at an outdoor event held to celebrate the ROC centennial, contacting the city-state's opposition party and being too close to the son of former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀).

She has described the allegations as "fictitious" and "unfounded."

Shih returned to Taiwan in late February and was sworn in as vice foreign minister in July.

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