Exclusive: President Ing-wen Tsai of Taiwan claims to have a Ph.D. from LSE. But, did she complete her oral defense in Boston or London?

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The president of the Republic of China on Taiwan, Ing-wen Tsai, claims to have a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics(LSE), a degree she received in 1984. In her 2011 autobiography, she posted a photo of a short-sleeved Tsai sitting in a chair with her older sister, with the note, “My sister flew to the U.K. to accompany me for my dissertation oral exam.” Now, readers of Eat News have discovered that the picture is not from London, England, but from Boston, USA. The Eat News correspondent in the U.S. was soon on the ground to check it out.

Photo: Onion Scrambled Eggs to Tsai’s Lunchbox

In 2019, many academics questioned the validity of Tsai’s education in the lead-up to Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election. Several scholars believe she flat-out falsified her credentials. In response to these claims, Tsai has targeted three of her most vocal detractors, and is suing them for defamation. According to Taiwanese law, defamation is a criminal offense. Those found guilty of it are liable for prison time.

In Tsai’s 2011 autobiography, there is a photo of Tsai and her sister, which was supposedly taken in London in 1980. However, some believe the photo was taken in America, not the UK.

On October 25, an astute netizen took to the popular Taiwanese online forum Mobile 01 and pointed out several issues with the photo. First, the person pointed out that a car in the background of the picture had its steering wheel on the left-side, something very unusual for London. Street-legal cars in the UK have their steering wheels on the right side. Furthermore, the architecture and street lights in the picture are atypical for Britain, and resemble US designs.

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A Facebook user left a comment on October 28, 4:49 PM Taiwan time (UTC+8) saying the picture looked like it was taken at Boston’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Eat News US Correspondent Victoria Gonzalez traveled to the church. According to Gonzalez, the church is currently undergoing renovations, therefore, the place where Tsai and her sister would have taken the picture from looks different. Furthermore, the church’s roof has also undergone a few changes.

It’s unfortunate that St. Paul’s Cathedral has undergone changes, but it can’t be helped. However, a netizen uncovered a picture of St. Paul’s Cathedral in the 1980’s from a November 10, 1982 edition of the Boston Globe. When we compare that picture to the one in Tsai’s autobiography, we find four matching features on the depicted buildings.

The exterior of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston is pictured on Nov. 10, 1982. Photo: Ted Dully/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

At the time of this article’s publishing, our attempts to email the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston have been fruitless.

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Fausto Chou is a Taiwanese journalist. He has been the executive editor of the Eat News since June, 2020. He previously worked for the Eastern Television (ETTV) and Formosa Television (FTV) as a journalist.


Victoria Gonzalez is a U.S. correspondent for Eat News who covers a variety of topics about the entertainment world and politics.


Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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