The White House in a statement on Friday marked the passing of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), while Lee’s alma mater Cornell University issued an obituary remembering his academic achievements and his 1995 speech during a visit to the campus.
It followed a statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo marking Lee’s contributions to Taiwan’s democratization.
Lee died due to septic shock and multiple organ failure in Taipei on Thursday evening. He was 97.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
The White House statement said that “President Lee was Taiwan’s first popularly elected leader and stepped down in adherence to term limits. President Lee was the architect of Taiwan’s modern democratic system, which today serves as a shining example of citizen-centric governance for the region and the world.”
“He led Taiwan through its transition from authoritarian military rule to a prosperous, free and open society. He will always be remembered for his strong commitment to democratic principles and human dignity,” it said.
The White House statement came after the US National Security Council remembered Lee as “Mr Democracy.”
Photo: AP / Yeh Tao-chuan
“We offer our deepest condolences to the people of Taiwan and the loved ones of former President Lee Teng-hui, the first popularly elected leader of Taiwan. ‘Mr. Democracy’ was a champion for freedom and the architect of Taiwan’s free and open society,” it said.
Cornell University, where Lee earned a doctorate in agricultural economics in 1968, published an obituary on its Web site.
Lee’s dissertation, titled “Intersectoral Capital Flows in the Economic Development of Taiwan, 1895-1960,” was selected as the outstanding dissertation of 1968 by the American Agricultural Association and later published as a book by the Cornel University Press, the school said.
Cornell also noted Lee’s speech at the Cornell Reunion on June 9, 1995, which he delivered in English.
Saying the visit “has been a long and challenging journey, with many bumps in the road,” Lee in his speech thanked the US Congress and people for their support, and then-US president Bill Clinton for his “statesman-like decision” that made his visit possible.
Clinton had refused Lee’s request for a visa in 1994.
Throughout his speech, Lee referred to Taiwan as “the Republic of China on Taiwan,” while touting “the Taiwan experience” of peaceful political change from authoritarianism to democracy.
Several hundred reporters from around the world covered Lee’s visit, and the lecture was broadcast throughout Asia and around the world, Cornell said.
Following Lee’s visit to the US, China launched missiles into the waters near Taiwan and the US responded by sending two aircraft carrier battle groups to the region, which later became known as the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis of July 1995 to March 1996.
Chen Jian (陳兼), professor emeritus of history and China-US relations at Cornell, said in the school's statement that “Lee will be remembered as a leader who played a significant role in Taiwan’s transition toward democratization and who also shaped the trajectory of Taiwan’s increasing separation from mainland China” and that "history will judge."
Separately on Friday, the Dalai Lama conveyed his condolences to Lee’s family via a letter delivered by the Dalai Lama’s office, saying that he had considered Lee a “personal friend” since his first visit to Taiwan in 1997.
That Taiwan enjoys such vibrancy, prosperity and rich cultural heritage as a democratic nation owes much to Lee’s contributions to the democratization of Taiwan, the Dalai Lama said.
Remembering Lee’s courage and resolve, and emulating his devotion to democracy is the best way to respect him, the Dalai Lama said.
Exiled Tibetan President Lobsang Sangay said that Lee’s meeting with the Dalai Lama marked the beginning of a new chapter in the Taiwan-Tibetan friendship.
Additional reporting by Chung Li-hua
RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE: People must wear a mask when outdoors, while employers should allow working from home or flexible hours, Chen Shih-chung said The Cabinet yesterday extended a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert until June 28 as the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reported 211 locally transmitted cases and 26 deaths. The CECC on May 15 issued the level 3 alert for Taipei and New Taipei City, saying it would last until May 28. Four days later, it expanded the alert to the entire nation before announcing on May 28 that the alert period had been extended to Monday next week. The latest extension was announced following a disease prevention meeting at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday morning. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung
‘DO NOT STAY TOO LONG’: People would be required to provide personal contact information when entering traditional markets, and illegal vendors would be fined The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced five crowd control measures for traditional and night markets as it reported 335 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, eight backlogged cases and 36 deaths. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the 335 new local cases are 189 males and 146 females, adding that they developed symptoms from May 24 to Saturday. The eight backlogged cases are three men and five women aged 20 to 70, Chen said. They began experiencing symptoms on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said. As most of the pending cases due to delayed test results
PRIORITY GROUPS: A line of people were waiting at the Good Liver Clinic, apparently to get shots, while the CECC announced more priority groups for jabs The Taipei-based Good Liver Clinic is to be fined NT$2 million (US$72,028) after giving free COVID-19 vaccine shots to people not in groups eligible to receive them, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) said yesterday. The Zhongshan District (中山)-based clinic was removed from the city’s list of vaccination venues and health officials would be investigated for giving 1,113 doses to the clinic, Huang told an afternoon news conference at Taipei City Hall. The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Tuesday in an exclusive story citing an anonymous tip reported that a Taipei clinic was doling out unused vaccines. People in
PHASE 2: The firm’s CEO said that the results were good and the experimental vaccine safe, but added that hoped-for phase 3 trials would be expensive Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) yesterday reported positive results from an interim analysis of phase 2 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the vaccine demonstrated high seroconversion rates and geometric mean titer (GMT) figures. A seroconversion rate is the percentage of participants in a trial displaying virus-specific immune memory after being given a vaccine, while the GMT measures the level of neutralizing antibody response, Medigen said. The experimental vaccine has a seroconversion rate of 99.8 percent and its GMT was 662 among the participants aged 20 to 89, while the gauges rose to 99.9 percent and 733 respectively in participants aged