As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages all parts of the world, Taiwan is lauded for donating over 51 million masks to more than 80 countries working to protect their people and especially front-line medical personnel from the virus.
As of the end of June, recipients included the United States, Japan, Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, European Union members, other countries in Europe and nations in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
The donations were made in four rounds that began in April, when 10 million masks went to medical workers in the United States and 11 countries in Europe. In the third round, in which over seven million masks were donated in May, 600,000 went to Africa and the Middle East, including aid workers who have been caring for Syrian refugees.
Taiwan is able to help other countries because its government and people have worked together to contain the virus despite its close proximity to China, where the first COVID-19 cases were reported. As of July 21, Taiwan had reported 455 confirmed cases, including 364 imported ones. Only seven of those infected had died.
The island nation has increased its daily production of masks from 1.8 million in January to 20 million by the end of May by putting together a “national team” of machine tool manufacturers and mask makers.
When visiting a member company on the team, President Tsai Ing-wen said that reaching the goal of 20 million masks a day would help boost the morale of the country and prove that Taiwan could push the limits again and again.
There were no strings attached to the international aid, according to Joanne Ou, a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
“What Taiwan has done is merely give others a hand when it can manage to look after itself,” Ou told reporters on June 30. “What we’re doing is to fulfill our obligation as a country in the international community and we don’t seek reward or even expect public expressions of gratitude”
Thank-you messages have nonetheless come from all over the world. When Taiwan announced the first round of donations on April 1, American Institute in Taiwan Director William Brent Christensen, the de facto U.S. ambassador, expressed appreciation and called Taiwan “a real friend indeed.”
Source: Central News Agency, Taiwan