NRI Dunia
Think Outside The Box

In shadow of China war games, Taiwan bids farewell to ‘Mr Democracy’

Taiwan bid farewell on Saturday to former president Lee Teng-hui, dubbed “Mr. Democracy” for ending autocratic rule in favour of free elections and championing Taiwan’s separate identity from China, as Beijing again sent jets close to the island.

Lee’s memorial service took place in the shadow of renewed Chinese war games, as did his election as Taiwan’s first democratic leader in 1996. China claims the island as its own territory.

Lee, who died in July, was president from 1988 to 2000.

His greatest act of defiance was becoming Taiwan’s first democratically elected president in March 1996, achieved in a landslide following eight months of intimidating war games and missile tests by China in waters around the island.

Those events brought China and Taiwan to the verge of conflict, prompting the United States to send an aircraft carrier task force to the area in a warning to the Beijing government.

On Friday and again on Saturday, China carried out drills in the Taiwan Strait, sending 19 aircraft near the island on Saturday alone, as Beijing expressed anger at the visit of a senior U.S. official to Taipei, there for Lee’s memorial.