Media frenzy in Singapore ahead of historic summit between China and Taiwan

Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015.
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015.
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW HUI MIN
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015.
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW HUI MIN
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015.
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW HUI MIN
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015.
Members of the media setting up at Shangri-La hotel on Nov 6, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW HUI MIN

SINGAPORE - The upcoming summit in Singapore between the presidents of China and Taiwan has stirred up media frenzy, with hordes of foreign journalists rushing to the city state and staking out at the venue ahead of the historic event on Saturday (Nov 7).

The lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel was swarming with reporters and camera crews on Friday. When The Straits Times visited the hotel in the afternoon, more than 40 media representatives were there, and video cameras were already set up.

A significant number of the journalists were from Taiwan, which has a highly competitive media industry. The Taiwanese journalists started arriving in Singapore on Wednesday, after news broke around Tuesday midnight that Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou on Saturday.

Taiwan has at least six 24-hour all-news cable channels catering to a population of 23 million. In comparison, there are only three major 24-hour news networks in the United States, which has a population of 320 million.

In the lead-up to the summit, Taiwan's media have gone into overdrive, pumping out news reports and analyses on a wide range of isses - from political implications and reactions to the surprise announcement, to the minutest of details such as seating and dining arrangements.

A reporter from one of Taiwan's biggest media networks, Chinese Television System (CTS), told The Straits Times that most media organisations from the island had sent at least three teams of staff. Each team usually comprises a reporter, a cameraman and a technician. The reporter, who declined to be named, is part of a six-member team from CTS.

Some of Taiwan's largest television channels, like Television Broadcasts Satellite (TVBS), had sent more than 10 teams - about 30 crew members - to Singapore, said another reporter from Hong Kong's Phoenix Television.

Phoenix Television, which has two members of staff based in Singapore, had sent an additional 10 staff from its offices in Taiwan and Hong Kong to help cover the event.

The Chinese media are also here in full force. The Straits Times understands that China's state news agency Xinhua, which has a bureau in Singapore with five staff, had flown in about 10 journalists to cover the event.

Most of the media representatives are staying at the Shangri-La, where a spokesman said the hotel was at full capacity. The hotel has more than 700 rooms, according to its website.

The summit between Mr Xi and Mr Ma will take place after the Chinese leader's two-day state visit to Singapore starting on Friday to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations.

They are expected to hold separate press conferences after their summit and have dinner together at the hotel.

Singapore last hosted a landmark meeting between the two sides in 1993 between the heads of the two semi-government bodies - Mr Wang Daohan of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (Arats) and Mr Koo Chen-fu, head of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) . More than 200 journalists from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Asian countries covered the event at the time.

xinen@sph.com.sg