Taiwan bids farewell to 'Mr Democracy'

Dubbed "Mr Democracy", a memorial service took place on Saturday (September 19) for Taiwan's former president Lee Teng-hui.

Lee was credited with ending autocratic rule in favor of free elections.

He also championed Taiwan's separate identity from China.

But Lee's service took place in the shadow of renewed tensions with China.

Just as his election to become Taiwan's first democratic leader did in 1996.

China claims the island as its own territory.

And on Friday and Saturday sent jets close to the island.

Beijing carried out drills in the Taiwan Strait, sending 19 aircraft near the island on Saturday alone.

Beijing has expressed anger at the visit of a senior U.S. official to Taipei, who is there for Lee's memorial.

Lee died in July at the age of 97 and was president between 1988 and 2000.

His landslide victory to become president followed eight months of intimidating war games and missile tests by China in waters around the island.

It brought China and Taiwan to the verge of conflict.

Speaking at the service Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said Lee had shaped the Taiwan of today.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing also reviles as a separatist, sent a recorded video message, referring to Lee as his "close friend".

Video Transcript

- Dubbed Mr. Democracy, a memorial service took place on Saturday for Taiwan's former president, Lee-Teng-hui. Lee was credited with ending autocratic rule in favor of free elections. He also championed Taiwan's separate identity from China. But Lee's service took place in the shadow of renewed tensions with China, just as his election to become Taiwan's first democratic leader did in 1996.

China claims the island as its own territory, and on Friday and Saturday, sent jets close to the island. Beijing carried out drills in the Taiwan Strait, sending 19 aircraft near the island on Saturday alone. Beijing has expressed anger at the visit of a senior US official to Taipei, who was there for Lee's memorial. Lee died in July at the age of 97, and was president between 1988 and 2000.

His landslide victory to become president followed eight months of intimidating war games and missile tests by China in waters around the island. It brought China and Taiwan to the verge of conflict. Speaking at the service, Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, said Lee had shaped the Taiwan of today. Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who Beijing also reviles as a separatist, sent a recorded video message, referring to Lee as his close friend.