Dalai Lama praises Lee Teng-hui for his contribution to Taiwan’s democracy

Tibetan spiritual and political  leader the Dalai Lama with Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui in Taipei, Taiwan, on 27 March 1997.

Tibetan spiritual and political leader the Dalai Lama with Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui in Taipei, Taiwan, on 27 March 1997. Photographer unknown

Tibet Sun Online News

ON THE WEB, 31 July 2020

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama expressed his grief over the death of former President of Taiwan Lee Teng-hui, and said that Lee was an ally of the Tibetan people and did what he could to support them.

Lee Teng-hui succumbed to multiple organ failure on Thursday at the age of 97, since being hospitalised in February. The international community mourned his passing, crediting him for bringing Taiwan on the path of democracy despite China’s missile launches and fierce saber-rattling threats against the transformation.

In a condolence letter sent to Lee’s wife Tseng Wen-hui, and members of her family, the Dalai Lama wrote, “I had the honour of meeting your husband during my first visit to Taiwan in 1997 when he was the first popularly elected President. Subsequently, we met again in Taiwan and at Peace Forums elsewhere and I regard him as a personal friend.”

The Dalai Lama has praised as “exceptional achievement” by Lee his efforts in ushering in democracy to the island nation. Beijing saw Lee’s democratic reforms as a direct threat to its claim over Taiwan. As a result of the transformation, Lee Teng-hui became Taiwan’s first democratically-elected president in 1996.

“Today, Taiwan is a vibrant and prosperous democracy with a rich cultural heritage. Perhaps the best tribute we can pay him is to remember his courage and determination and emulate his dedication to democracy,” the Dalai Lama wrote.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement offered his “sincere condolences” on Lee’s passing, and said that Lee, as Taiwan’s first democratically-elected president, helped put an end to decades of authoritarianism and ushered in a new era of economic prosperity, openness, and rule of law in Taiwan.

“During his 12-year tenure, Lee’s bold reforms played a crucial role in transforming Taiwan into the beacon of democracy we see today. He cemented the deep friendship between the United States and Taiwan,” the statement said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his deep sorrow at Lee’s passing, and said “Lee advanced freedom, democracy and human rights in Taiwan.”

The Taiwanese government will hold a state funeral for the former President, a figure respected on the island for ending autocratic rule, but branded as the “Godfather of Taiwan secessionism” by China’s state-run Global Times.

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