AIT, MOFA mourn death of former AIT director Johnson

2018/07/11 18:46:16 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Photo courtesy of The American Institute in Taiwan

Photo courtesy of The American Institute in Taiwan

Taipei, July 11 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Wednesday mourned the death of former AIT director, Darryl N. Johnson, who passed away on June 24 in Seattle. He was 80.

"The American Institute in Taiwan extends its condolences to Ambassador Johnson's family. He will truly be missed," said an AIT press release.

Johnson was AIT Director from 1996-1999, at "a critical time in U.S.-Taiwan relations," AIT noted. It did not elaborate on that point.

According to a separate statement, MOFA said Johnson served as AIT director during a historic moment in time that included the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis and the first direct presidential election in Taiwan on March 23, 1996 that resulted in the election of the KMT's Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) as president and Lien Chan (連戰) as vice president.

"He witnessed Taiwan's democratic development first hand and helped strengthen bilateral relations during the process. He will be missed by Taiwan," it noted. The 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis happened in the run up to the election. China held a series of military exercises and fired missiles close to the ports of Keelung and Kaohsiung, causing panic in Taiwan and prompting then-U.S. President Bill Clinton to send two aircraft carrier battle groups into international waters near Taiwan.

MOFA said Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) has asked Taiwan's office in Seattle to extend the nation's condolence to Johnson's family on behalf of the Republic of China (Taiwan) government. The office also sent staff to attend his memorial service.

According to AIT, the senior U.S. diplomat also served as U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, the Philippines and Lithuania, where he was the first U.S. ambassador following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

His other assignments included postings to Hong Kong, Moscow, Beijing and Warsaw, in addition to serving as deputy assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific affairs.

Johnson worked on U.S.-China relations after Nixon visited China; Cold War diplomacy during the last decade of Soviet power and witnessed both the pro-democracy protest in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it added.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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