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Obituaries

Sun Yun-suan, 92; Taiwan's Premier From 1978 to 1984 Developed Export Economy

February 17, 2006|From a Times Staff Writer

Sun Yun-suan, who directed Taiwan's rapid economic development in the late 1960s and 1970s and helped make the island a model for other industrializing nations, has died. He was 92.

Sun died Wednesday of septic shock at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was admitted to the facility last month after experiencing breathing difficulties.

He eventually suffered acute heart and lung failure.

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 planning and completing 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.

Those 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 on the Chinese mainland, Sun was educated in the 1930s as an electrical engineer in Manchuria in northeast China.

After a number of government jobs, he received further training at the Tennessee Valley Authority for two years during World War II 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 the post of senior engineer to president.

He worked for three years as chief executive officer and general manager of the Electricity Corp. 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 communications.

He left government in 1984 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.

In his later years, he served in the rather symbolic role of presidential advisor.

Details on survivors were not immediately available.

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