Fake news alleging former Taiwan president's death circulates online

98-year-old Taiwanese political icon still recovering from treatment in hospital

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Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui.

Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — News circulating online that suggested former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had passed away on Tuesday (July 28) was labeled as fake by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), who said its 98-year-old leader is still recovering from treatment at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

According to New Talk, a fake news release was posted on Facebook Tuesday evening claiming that the political icon had been extubated around 9 p.m. that day after his pneumonia, which he suffered from drinking a glass of milk too fast in February, worsened. It also pointed out that reporters had gathered at the hospital to wait for the official announcement of Lee's death.

Since it was published, the fake news has been shared thousands of times in multiple social media posts. The TSU has disputed the rumors in a party statement and emphasized that Lee is still recovering at the hospital.

During a press interview Wednesday (July 29), the hospital confirmed that Lee's health is less than ideal. However, it said the doctors are trying to stabilize his condition by supplying him medication, reported Yahoo News.

Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) have canceled their scheduled events and arrived at the hospital Wednesday morning to visit Lee. According to ETtoday, the two had left the building at 10:15 a.m.

On Feb. 8, Lee choked while drinking a glass of milk and could not stop coughing. After being rushed to the hospital, he was diagnosed with pneumonia.

Wang Yan-chun (王燕軍), secretary-general of the Lee Teng-hui Foundation, has told the media that Lee would remain at the hospital for further examinations and that doctors could only prescribe less aggressive medication due to his age and history of heart disease.

Serving from 1988 to 2000, Lee was the first Taiwanese candidate to be elected president. He is known for his close ties with the Japanese government as well as his outspoken views against Beijing's human rights violations.