AIT, MOFA mourn passing of former AIT director

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Jul 12, 2018 - Page 3

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday mourned the death of former AIT director Darryl Johnson, who passed away on June 24 in Seattle. He was 80.

“The American Institute in Taiwan extends its condolences to Ambassador Johnson’s family. He will truly be missed,” AIT said in a news release.

Johnson was AIT director from 1996 to 1999, at “a critical time in US-Taiwan relations,” it said.

The ministry also paid tribute to Johnson’s service during a historic period that included the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis and the first direct presidential election in Taiwan on March 23, 1996, which resulted in the election of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) as president and Lien Chan (連戰) as vice president, the ministry said in a statement.

“He witnessed Taiwan’s democratic development firsthand and helped strengthen bilateral relations during the process. He will be missed by Taiwan,” the ministry said.

The 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis refers to the run-up to the election that year, when China held a series of military exercises and fired missiles close to the ports of Keelung and Kaohsiung in an attempt to intimidate Taiwanese voters, prompting then-US president Bill Clinton to send two aircraft carrier battle groups into international waters near Taiwan.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) asked Taiwan’s office in Seattle to extend the nation’s condolences to Johnson’s family on behalf of the Taiwanese government.

The office also sent staff to attend his memorial service.

Johnson also served as US ambassador to Thailand, the Philippines and Lithuania, where he was the first US ambassador following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the AIT said.

His other assignments included postings to Hong Kong, Moscow, Beijing and Warsaw.