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Dr. LIEN Chan

62nd Congregation (2005)

Dr. LIEN Chan
Doctor of Laws

Dr Lien Chan is an outstanding statesman, a renowned scholar, and currently the Honorary Chairman of the Kuomintang and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lien Chan Foundation for Peace and Development. He has devoted himself wholeheartedly and selflessly to matters of the state over the decades, conducting himself with the utmost rectitude, always putting the interest of the people at the forefront. He is a man of the highest integrity, not given to compromises; at the same time he is generous of heart and mind. He has come to be admired both at home and abroad as an elder statesman of the first rank. Lien Chan’s family came from Longxi prefecture in Zhangzhoufu, Fujian province. His forefathers moved to Taiwan at the time of Emperor Kangxi, settling in Bingmaying, Ningnanfang of Tainanfu. In 1895 the Qing Government ceded Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan. Mr Lien Heng, the grandfather of Lien Chan, was loathe to live under foreign rule, and took his family back to the mainland. Later in his career Mr Lien Heng completed his masterpiece of a lifetime, A General History of Taiwan, an exhaustive study of the history of the place over 1,300 years, from the Sui and Tang Dynasties to the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5. The author thus wrote in the preface: “A country may be annihilated, but not its chronicles.” He was trying hard to drive home to generations of Taiwan people after him that they should not forget their origins and the fact that they are Chinese. Mr Lien Chen-tung, the son of Mr Lien Heng, was a student in Japan at the time, but when the 9.18 Incident occurred he was instructed by his father to return to China, where he was soon to meet, and later marry, Miss Chao Lan-k’un, who came from an illustrious family in Shenyang and a student at Yenching University at the time. Mr Lien Heng died in Shanghai during the war against Japanese aggression, and his last words were to name his future grandson Lien Chan, which connotes a ceaseless and self-strengthening spirit to subdue adversaries and attain victory. That was how Dr Lien Chan came to be named. Lien Chan was born in 1936 in the city of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. Deeply influenced by the profound patriotism and public spirit of his grandfather as well as his father’s deep affection for his country and native place, the young Lien Chan grew up to be a person of impeccable moral rectitude destined for lifelong service to his people. In 1957 Lien Chan graduated in political science from the University of Taiwan and proceeded to further studies in the United States. He obtained a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy in 1961 and a PhD in Political Science in 1965, both from the University of Chicago. He then married Miss Fang Yui, a lady blessed with both beauty and talent. After his marriage he took up teaching and research at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Connecticut. In 1968 a strong vocation for public service called him back to Taiwan. He took up a visiting professorship in Political Science at the University of Taiwan, and later became chairman of the department and the Graduate Institute of Political Science. For seven years he contributed significantly to his department, spending his time on teaching, research and administrative work, and from time to time offering advice to the government on diplomatic issues and international relationships. His views and opinions came to be highly valued by those in authority, and his dazzling, trail-blazing political career took off when he was appointed as ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador in 1975. In 1976 Dr Lien Chan was recalled and appointed as the Director of Committee of Youth Affairs, Kuomintang. Two years later he became the Deputy Secretary-General of the Central Committee, and the Commissioner of the National Youth Commission of the Executive Yuan. At this time he worked closely with the relevant authorities to recruit outstanding scholars for various fields and sectors in Taiwan, including the humanities, economics, science and technology, and the industries. Through these efforts he laid the foundation for the rapid social, political and economic growth of Taiwan. His unswerving dedication to nurturing and supporting the development of young talents has won him the fine reputation of being the Mentor of Youths. Dr Lien Chan soon had the admiration and trust of the authorities for conducting business with firmness and flair, and his rise to the upper echelons of the Taiwan government was rapid. Since 1981 he had held the posts of Minister of Transportation and Communications, Vice-Premier of the Executive Yuan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Governor of the Taiwan Province, Premier of the Executive Yuan, Vice-President of Taiwan and Chairman of the Kuomintang. His political career spans more than thirty years. His experience in matters of state covers both domestic and diplomatic affairs, and he has dealt with both regional affairs and overall policy. On all of these he has accumulated a rich store of experience, and he understands these issues intimately. Today, as we survey the many policies and measures implemented for the good of the people of Taiwan, we are witnessing the fruit of Dr Lien’s magnificent labours in various public offices over the years. Taiwan is now very advanced in technology and telecommunication. The seeds were planted by Dr Lien as Minister of Transportation and Communications; at a time when few were aware of the overwhelming importance of such technology, he vowed to bring three million citizens to the internet within four or five years, a decision of the most profound foresight. And as Minister of Foreign Affairs he put into practice a pragmatic diplomacy, taking a steadfast and gradual course that proved effective in improving and fostering external relations. As Governor of the Taiwan Province he was a great advocate of the rule of law, and making decisions on the basis of the public will. As Premier of the Executive Yuan he devised innovative and reformative policies in economics, diplomacy, culture and education, environmental protection and social welfare. As a leader and a senior government official it would not have been possible for Dr Lien to be conversant with each and every aspect of administrative work for which he was responsible. In going about his business he was guided by a principle: first grasp the key elements of the operation of a ministry or a department, and through this achieve a comprehensive understanding of the entire setup. In management he expected delegation of authority through the layers of the hierarchy and a division of labour across different units; but delegation must be accompanied by accountability, and the division of labour must lead to cooperation. With these management concepts Dr Lien went about the business of state with a light touch, making the gravest decisions with little effort. Dr Lien is a man of cautious words and scrupulous deeds. He has a generous mind and a lofty vision, a vision about what could be achieved in the days to come. As a result he boldly undertook, against all odds, the historical “journey of peace” to the Mainland on 26 April 2005. The journey inaugurated the first dialogue between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang in 56 years, catching the attention of the whole world. It brought hope for peace across the Taiwan Strait, and pointed a way towards greater prosperity for the Chinese people through collaboration. The journey of peace lasted only eight days, but its impact is immense. As Dr Lien said during his public lecture at Peking University, the purpose of his visit to the Mainland was to achieve win-win results through peaceful means. It is not possible to stop the wheels of history and governments should act according to the will of the people on both sides of the Strait. Given the present global context, those in authority should seize the opportunities to create a promising future. Henceforth, the Chinese people are launched on a peaceful path to prosperity. The path may be arduous and the journey may be long; but this is our destiny and we must forge on courageously, without looking back. Dr Lien Chan is happily married; Mrs Lien, who holds a master’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Connecticut and an honorary degree from St John’s University in the United States, is well-known for her elegance and refined writings. They have two sons and two daughters, who are all accomplished in their chosen fields of study. Dr Lien’s illustrious public career and the domestic bliss have for a long time been the cause of admiration and envy, as if Providence has bestowed a special favour. However, such success must also be attributed to his immense efforts over the past decades, boldly meeting challenges and scaling new heights one after another. Over these years Dr Lien has shouldered the immense burden of leading the Kuomintang and motivating its growth and development. After the journey of peace and having created an unequaled opportunity for mutually beneficial cooperation across the Strait, he relinquished the helm of the party in July 2005 to assume an honorary chairmanship. He thus set an excellent example for democracy, renewal and reform within his party. Mr Chancellor, in recognition of his unswerving commitment to the service of the country and its people, his innumerable acts of benevolence when holding various public offices, and his exemplary statesmanship and dedication to the public good, may I present Dr Lien Chan for the award of the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.