AIT lowers flag to half-staff in honor of former Taiwan president

American Institute in Taiwan credits Lee Teng-hui with democratizing country, advancing relations with US

U.S. flag lowered to half-staff at AIT to honor Taiwan's late president Lee Teng-hui. 

U.S. flag lowered to half-staff at AIT to honor Taiwan's late president Lee Teng-hui.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Friday (July 31) lowered its flag to half-staff in memory of former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who passed away Thursday evening (July 30) at the age of 97.

According to CNA, AIT ordered the American flag to be lowered at its office in Taipei's Neihu District Friday morning to honor the late president. Earlier in January, it made a similar gesture to express condolences over the death of Taiwan's Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴) and the other seven military officers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in New Taipei City.

In a statement, AIT described Lee as not only Taiwan's first directly elected president but also a friend of the U.S. It credited him with Taiwan's peaceful transition from martial law to full democratization during his 12-year tenure, as well as enabling the country's solid friendship the U.S.

AIT pointed out that Lee, an alumnus of Iowa State University and Cornell University, had strengthened the bonds between the two countries by emphasizing people-to-people ties. It said his legacy of transforming Taiwan into a "beacon of freedom and democracy" will be felt by future generations.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also offered his condolences over Lee's passing. Taking to Twitter, he stressed that the U.S. will continue to cherish Lee's dedication and strengthen its friendship with Taiwan.