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Architect of Taiwan's industrial revolution
[February 25, 2006]

Architect of Taiwan's industrial revolution

(The Irish Times Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Sun Yun-suan: Sun Yun-suan, who directed Taiwan's rapid economic development in the late 1960s and 1970s and helped to make the island a model for other industrialising nations, has died. He was 92.

As premier from 1978 to 1984, Sun was widely credited with transforming Taiwan's first export boom - textiles, shoes and plastic toys in the 1960s - into sustained economic growth in such new export industries as petrochemicals, machine tools and electronics.

One of his major achievements was the planning and completion of 10 major development projects, including Taiwan's first nuclear power plant, a major steel mill and shipyard, a large petrochemical complex and new railroads, highways and seaports.

These infrastructure improvements helped Taiwan survive a recession in the mid-1970s and became the foundation for later economic growth.

In 1980 Sun launched a second development project that included projects in culture, education and social welfare, as well as more nuclear power plants, railways and new towns.

Born in Shandong province, Sun was trained as an electrical engineer in Manchuria in the 1930s. After a number of government jobs, he received training at the Tennessee Valley Authority for two years during the second World War before going to Taiwan, which had just been recovered from Japan, in 1946.

From 1946 to 1964 Sun worked for Taiwan's electric utility, rising from senior engineer to president. He then worked for three years as chief executive officer and general manager of the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, shortly after the African country became independent.

He returned to Taiwan in 1967 to become minister of communications and, two years later, minister of economic affairs. For a decade after that, Sun served as Taiwan's minister of economic affairs and of communications.

He left government in 1984 after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage. In his later years he served in the symbolic role of presidential adviser.

Sun Yun-suan: born 1914; died February 15th, 2006

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