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  • Heritage Mourns Loss of Ambassador James R. Lilley

    Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner issued the following statement on the death of James R. Lilley:

    “Jim Lilley was a giant in the China policy world. Both the experts who worked with him, and the amateurs, like me, who learned so much from him over the decades, have stood in awe of the mastery of the language, customs, influence, and subtle nuances of Asia policy by Jim. Everyone, of every political stripe, respected and admired Jim as America ’s premier ‘China hand,’ knowledgeable and principled, always keeping America’s interests at the core of his views.

    As a child growing up in China and Korea, later in various government posts and as the head of America’s Liaison Office in Taipei, as our Ambassador in both Seoul and later in Beijing, Asia was in Jim’s blood. And Jim stood firm and tall, and taught us all.

    As I have told my colleague, Arthur Brooks, the President of the American Enterprise Institute, one of the ways in which I really envy him is that he had Jim Lilley on his staff. And I know of no institution interested in Asia policy, left or right, that didn’t harbor the same jealousy.

    The China debate – so often rancorous and generator of more heat than light – will sorely miss him.

    Ambassador Lilley will no longer lead Washington policy debates on this vital bilateral relationship and on so many other Asian policy questions. But thankfully, he has left us generations of  ‘China hands’ and ‘Asia hands’ who aspire to nothing more than to be the next Jim Lilley.

    Linda and I extend our sincere condolences to Sally and the family.”

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Heritage Mourns Loss of Ambassador James R. Lilley

    1. Tim Hopper, Fort Wor says:

      This is a sad loss of a great understanding of the issues as they evolve, and a great patriot who continually looked to improve the American condition. tjh

    2. Esther Yoder Stenson says:

      I will never forget the Thanksgiving in Shenyang, China when we lowly foreign teachers were invited to the American Consulate for a grand Thanksgiving turkey dinner with Ambassador James Lilley in 1991. I happened to come in the front door about the same time he did and in the flurry of introductions and taking off coats, I dropped my red wool scarf at his feet. I don't think I'll ever again feel the embarrassment and honor of having such a noted gentleman stoop and quickly pick it up for me! I always perked up my ears throughout the years when I heard his name mentioned in the news.

    3. Bobbie Jay says:

      Our condolences to Mr. Lilley's wife and family and our gratitude to Mr. Lilley, who has instilled so much good will in this world! God Bless!

    4. Marjorie M. Milller says:

      I knew Jim was a giant in world politics, particularly on China policy, but Jim and his lovely wife Sally, were our dear, esteemed friends. They purchased their house from us in Lewes, Delaware. Jim was an avid swimmer. He loved swimming in the Harbor of Refuge off of the Delaware Bay. He and Sally formed affectionate friendships among their neightbors and their dinners always reflected an Asian flavor and savy political commentary. He educated us all. He was a dear friend, a mentor and a wonderfully funny man with great intelligence and a large capacity for compassion and truth. As neighbor, we got to know him as a gentleman, as well as the political personna whom so many others knew. He will be incredibly missed by his friends and neightbors in Lewes.

    5. Douglas Lilley says:

      I'm Doug Lilley, one of Jim's sons. I'm sure I speak for my family when I say thanks to Heritage for this tribute. I read it to my mom this afternoon and she was very appreciative. Thanks so much, I'm sure he would be proud to read what you have written here.

    6. Tony Wang, Shanghai, says:

      To Mrs. Lilley and the Lilley family,

      Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. I'm deeply honored and grateful to have interned for Ambassador Lilley at AEI back in the early/mid 1990s. He not only taught me much about China and Asia, but more importantly, he was a true gentleman and wonderful mentor to me (as no doubt, he was to countless others).

      I was especially grateful to reconnect with him during his book tour stop in Berkeley in 2004, when he was able to meet and briefly play with my then infant son at the Faculty Club.

      Tony Wang

      Shanghai, China

    7. Andrew Lilley, New J says:

      I am very sorry to hear about the loss of Jim Lilley. He was my dad's (Phil Lilley's) first cousin. I had the opportunity to meet him once and talk with him on the phone several times. He was an intelligent and well-spoken person. I read 'China Hands' and it was intriguing to learn about his life and his distinguished career. Our thoughts and prayers are with his immediate family.

    8. Dr. George Lee says:

      I worked for Ambassador Lilley when I was the Chief Economist at the American Institute in Taiwan (unofficial American Embassy). Ambassador Lilley was forthright, intelligent and hardworking

      When a Fulbright scholar commented that he foud Taiwan quite open and much better than what he was told in the US, he asked Ambassador Lilley, "What should I tell people in the US?

      Ambassador Lilley's asnwer was perfect, "Just tell them what you saw, the good and the bad." I was my honor and pleasure to have worked as a US diplomat for Ambassador.

      Dr. George Lee

      San Francisco State University

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