Lee with current president Tsai Ing-wen in 2012 – screencap of Kyodo image

Taiwan earlier today said its final goodbyes to the man long nicknamed “Mr. Democracy” – former President Lee Teng-hui.

In a ceremony outside the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, current President Tsai Ing-wen presided over a ceremony for a president who will go down in Taiwanese history books as the person responsible for picking apart and himself laying to rest Chinese ambitions in laying a claim to the island nation, and destroying the concept of autocratic rule after decades of oppressive rule.

Aged 97, when he died in July this year, former President Lee served the nation as president from 1988 to 2000.

In the years after stepping down as president, however, Lee remained a prominent figure in Taiwanese politics – most notably in 2012 when he called Taiwan “a country of democracy, freedom, human rights and dignity, where one does not have to be ruled by others and where everyone can say out loud ‘I’m Taiwanese’.”

the former president in uniform alongside his brother

The official memorial service for Lee, the first democratically elected president of the nation, took place in September with all those wishing to do so were able to pay their respects, albeit at a time of increasing Chinese aggressions

When elected president on 23rd March 1996, Lee won the election having secured 54% of the popular vote. After doing so, he in essence said the relationship between China and Taiwan was one of two states, a concept never before stated so openly by a Taiwan based leader.

At the time, Lee’s ascent was seen as a possible trigger to eventual war, a possibility pacified in part by the U.S. government with the dispatch of an aircraft-carrier battle group to the region.

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