Taiwan's leader, senior government officials and a high-level US envoy have paid tribute to the man who led Taiwan's transition to democracy, former president Lee Teng-hui.
Keith Krach, the US undersecretary for state, kept a low profile at the service. His presence at the event and on the island has drawn a strong rebuke from China, which sent 18 warplanes across the midline of the Taiwan Strait on Friday in an unusually large display of force.
The service was held at the Aletheia University in Taipei on a balmy Saturday morning, with President Tsai Ing-wen honouring Lee for bringing a peaceful political transition to the island democracy.
Lee died on July 30 at age 97.
"We have a responsibility to continue his endeavours, allowing the will of the people to reshape Taiwan, further defining Taiwan's identity and deepening and bolstering democracy and freedom," Tsai said.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Dalai Lama also paid tribute from afar.
"We Buddhists believe in life after life, so most probably he will be reborn in Taiwan," the Dalai Lama said in a video message. "His rebirth will carry his spirit continuously."
The guests included another former Japanese prime minister, Yoshiro Mori. They wore masks and sat spaced out in pews.
Lee, an agricultural economist and politician, devoted his career toward building democracy on the island through direct elections and other changes.
He was the first government official to speak out and formally apologise for the so-called 228 incident, named after February 28, 1947, when soldiers under the Kuomingtang, or the sole ruling Nationalist Party, shot and killed thousands of civilians in an anti-government uprising.
The bloodshed marked the beginning of a decades-long period known as the White Terror in which the island was ruled by martial law.
In 1990, Lee signalled his support for student demands for direct presidential elections and the end of reserving legislative seats to represent districts on the Chinese mainland.
The following year he oversaw the dismantling of emergency laws put into effect by Chiang Kai-shek's government, effectively reversing the Nationalists' long-standing goal of returning to the mainland and removing the Communists from power.
Lee also built a separate Taiwanese political identity, distinct from mainland China, which claims Taiwan as part of its own territory to be reunited by force if necessary.
Lee's carving out of a non-Chinese identity and insistence that the island be treated as an equal country brought him into direct conflict with Beijing.
China launched a series of threatening military manoeuvres off the coast of mainland Fujian province that included the firing of missiles just off Taiwan's coast.
More missiles were fired immediately before the March 1996 presidential elections, and the US response was to send aircraft carrier battle groups to Taiwan's east coast in a show of support.
The Trump administration has taken multiple steps in recent months to strengthen its engagement with Taiwan, angering China.
Krach is the second high-level official to visit Taiwan in two months, following US Health Secretary Alex Azar in August.
Unlike Azar's visit, Krach's was held mostly behind closed doors. On Friday, he held talks with Taiwan's minister of economic affairs and the vice premier, in addition to local business leaders. He also dined with Tsai.
China has condemned the visit multiple times. On Friday, fighter jets from the People's Liberation Army flew into the island's air defence identification zone, at least the second round of war games this month aimed at intimidating supporters of the island's independent political identity.
Australian Associated Press