Update: Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui passed away at age 97

Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui pronounced dead at 7:24 p.m. on July 30

Lee Teng-hui. 

Lee Teng-hui.  (CNA photo)

Update: 07/30 10:30 p.m.

Former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) died at 7:24 p.m. at the age of 97 in Taipei Veterans General Hospital, where he had been hospitalized since February.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) is being reported as "critically ill," with many government officials and relatives seen visiting him in the hospital on Thursday (July 30).

On the evening of Feb. 8, after Lee's attending nurse took his blood pressure and measured his blood sugar level, he suddenly began choking as he drank a glass of milk. He was having difficulty breathing and was rushed to Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH), where doctors found he had suffered pulmonary infiltration, which led to aspiration pneumonia.

Lee, 97, has now been hospitalized for nearly half a year. As his pneumonia has coincided with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he has declined visitors, and the hospital has been reticent to reveal Lee's condition.

On Tuesday afternoon (July 28), a large number of reporters began to gather around the hospital, and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) visited the former president. Lee's 94-year-old wife Tseng Wen-hui (曾文惠) was also seen at his bedside.

CNA on Wednesday (July 29) cited hospital sources as saying that Lee has been unstable for an extended period of time and could take a turn for the worse. On Thursday (July 30), the news agency described him as "reportedly critically ill."

Tseng again visited her ailing husband at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, and his son-in-law Lai Kuo-chou (賴國洲) and other relatives were also expected to arrive at TVGH that day. A large number of reporters have been camping outside the hospital in anticipation of Lee's condition taking a turn for the worse, but there has been no confirmation that his demise is imminent.

In fact, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) on Tuesday disputed false rumors that Lee had already died. During a press conference on Wednesday, TVGH acknowledged that Lee's health was "less than ideal" but said that doctors were working to stabilize his condition with medication.

UDN reports that Lee's kidney function has declined due to underlying health conditions and his advanced age. Hospital sources say that he is now undergoing kidney dialysis on a daily basis.