Taiwan's 'Mr Democracy' Lee Teng-hui dies aged 97 in Taipei

FILE PHOTO: Former Taiwan President Lee speaks during news conference in Tokyo

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui, dubbed "Mr. Democracy" for burying autocratic rule in favour of freewheeling pluralism, died at the age of 97, the official Central News Agency reported on Thursday.

Lee became Taiwan's first democratically elected president in 1996, in a landslide victory that followed eight months of intimidating war games and missile tests by China in waters around Taiwan in an attempt to scare voters.

He thrived on defying China's drive to absorb the island it regards as a wayward province and hoped for Taiwan to be "a country of democracy, freedom, human rights and dignity."

(Reporting By Yimou Lee; editing by John Stonestreet)