Taiwan’s godfather of democracy Lee Teng-hui mastered the long game

Former President Lee Teng-hui passed away at age 97 on July 30, 2020

Taiwan News
Date: 2020/07/31
By: Eric Chang, Taiwan News, Contributing Writer

Former President Lee Teng-hui (Reuters photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) will be forever remembered as a monumental figure in Taiwan’s struggle to break free from the clutches of a brutal authoritarian regime and develop into one of the world's most vibrant democracies.

While many people deserve credit for Taiwan’s democratic transformation, few had the patience and the long-sightedness that Lee possessed to start at the bottom from within the Kuomintang (KMT) and slowly move up, step by step, until he could go no higher, before finally letting his true Taiwanese colors shine. That is what's called mastering the long game.

Lee Teng-hui was born on Jan. 15, 1923, in Sanzhi (三芝) in northwest Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period. He studied agricultural economics in Japan at Kyoto Imperial University in 1943 but returned to Taiwan after World War II and continued his studies at National Taiwan University, where he graduated in 1949, before then moving on to complete his graduate studies at Iowa State University and Cornell University.

Lee joined the KMT in October 1971 to help solve Taiwan’s agricultural problems and in 1972 was appointed by Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who by then had become premier, as a minister without portfolio assigned to work on agriculture. Lee then worked his way up to become a member of the KMT’s Central Committee on Nov. 17, 1976.    [FULL  STORY]

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