Taiwan’s first directly elected president, Lee Teng-hui, oversaw liberalization

Newsweek called him 'Mr. Democracy' as he oversaw peaceful transition period in 1990s

Taiwan News
Date: 2020/07/30
By: Matthew Strong, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Taiwan’s first native-born and directly elected president, who oversaw the island nation’s transition to democracy, passed away today (July 30), aged 97.

Lee served as head of state and as chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) from 1988 until 2000, a period marked by democratization and liberalization but also by tension with China.

The former president had been staying at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei since February to undergo treatment for pneumonia, which was reportedly discovered after he coughed while drinking a glass of milk. His wife, Tseng Wen-hui (曾文惠), 94, and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited him at the hospital on Wednesday (July 29).

Lee was born in Sanzhi on Taiwan’s north coast in 1923, during the Japanese colonial period. He graduated from Kyoto Imperial University and from National Taiwan University before earning a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Iowa State University in 1953; his academic career later took him to Cornell University where he obtained a Ph.D. in agricultural economics in 1968.    [FULL  STORY]

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