Written by Denis Simon. In early 2021, Taiwan’s health care system was ranked number one globally for the third year in a row by NUMBEO’s Annual Online Survey. Its overall performance buoyed the island’s ability to consistently earn such a high ranking during the first 12-14 months of the Covid-19 global pandemic beginning in 2020. Taiwan officials initially were able to ward off any significant damage from the pandemic by pursuing a highly aggressive strategy to keep the virus at bay. While other international rankings, such as the World Index of Healthcare Innovation, do not rank Taiwan as number one in its rating system, there is consensus across the board internationally that the government has proven itself highly effective at managing its single-payer health care system, mainly due to its innovative approach to digital health records.
Written by Lotta Danielsson. For the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan served as a brilliant example of how best to handle the crisis. Leaning on its experiences during the 2003 SARS epidemic, Taiwan received glowing reviews for its protective measures. Stories about long stays in quarantine hotels and the vigilant surveillance of arriving travellers spread widely online. Donations of high-quality protective gear served as public relations opportunities, culminating with “Made in Taiwan” facemasks worn at the White House. Photos from a crowded live concert in Taipei elicited envy from those still in semi-lockdown elsewhere.
Written by Min-hua Chiang. Taiwan government revised up economic growth forecast in 2021 to 5.5% in June despite the sudden surge of covid-19 cases since mid-May. This is the fastest growth path since and second only to the post-crisis rebound in 2010 (see Figure 1). The economy is bolstered by thriving exports outlook. Growing domestic investment is another anchor of Taiwan’s economy thanks to the continuous investment repatriation. The greater government consumption is expected to offset the potential fall in private consumption following the constraints on outdoor activities. Taiwan Centres for Disease Control (CDC)’s capability to put the domestic outbreak under control in a month further gives confidence that moderate economic growth this year could be expected.
Written by Chan-Yuan Wong, Ker-Hsuan Chien, and Mei-Chih Hu. As the world enters the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Taiwan – previously acknowledged as a Covid-free nation – encountered a new outbreak in mid-May 2021. This wave of infection has been deemed critical, as the number of infection cases has surpassed 700, and the infectivity rate is as contagious as measles. To date, Taiwan encountered 635 death cases related to Covid-19 – of which 98% are attributed to the recent outbreak since 15 May 2021.
Written by Chun-Chien Kuo. According to the latest Bloomberg Covid-19 Resilience Report, Taiwan’s ranking has slumped to 44th place in June from the 15th in May. Meanwhile, the support rates for President Tsai have declined dramatically. Taiwan had successfully controlled the Covid-19 virus for more than one year under the strict border control, and people had been luckily enjoying the near normal life without lockdown elsewhere. The economy gained positive momentum both from strong export and little affected domestic activities. The CECC Commander Chen, President Tsai and DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) had been rewarded with high political support for their well performance in fighting the Covid-19 virus. However …
Written by John F. Copper. The recent economic news emanating from Taiwan is the impressive growth in its gross domestic product (GDP)—one of the basic indicators of economic vitality. This is certainly good to hear. After experiencing negative growth throughout most of 2020, conditions changed in the last quarter of the year. As a result, Taiwan even bested China’s GDP growth. Furthermore, the upward trend accelerated this year, with GDP expansion the highest in two decades. If this growth is sustained, 2021 will end with a welcomed 5 per cent or better rise.
Written by Natalie Dai（戴淨妍）, Jessica Hsu（徐卉馨）, Sophia Lee（李昕儒）, Dennis He（何正生); Translated by Sam Robbins. In August 2020, Lin Nuo-ning signed a half-year contract with her landlord and planned to stay in this apartment during her career move. However, when Nuo-ning applied for the subsidy for a second time, she received a call from her landlord whilst at work, criticising her for applying for the subsidy without telling her landlord first. As a result, her landlord asked her to move immediately. In applying for the subsidy, Nuo-ning had unintentionally caused the national tax bureau to contact her landlord to expect her tax records.
Written by Natalie Dai（戴淨妍）, Jessica Hsu（徐卉馨）, Sophia Lee（李昕儒）, Dennis He（何正生); Translated by Sam Robbins. For recent graduates like Yi-ting, mostly all renters, rent typically takes up between one quarter and one-third of their monthly income. According to the Ministry of Labour, the average monthly salary for recent graduates in 2019 was 28,231NTD (£724; $1021). Judging by mean rental prices per region, if they are willing to move out to the suburbs of New Taipei City, they can expect to pay around 8,000NTD (£205; $289) a month for an eight ping (26 square meters; 285 square feet) apartment.
Written by Chris Chih-Hua Tseng. Taipei has spawned some policy innovations. Meanwhile, in Taoyuan, an adjacent developing city that has built massive amounts of social housing, none of the above happened. Instead, the city government proudly announced it had built social housing the fastest. Why has social housing developped much more sluggishly in the capital than it has in Taoyuan? To answer the differences between these two cities, we need to expand our scope to broader urban politics and urban developmental processes.
Written by Arthur Ding. In April, the London based Economist carried several in-depth analyses on Taiwan and US-China relations in the context of China’s increasing assertive policy toward Taiwan. Among them, the one titled “Taiwan: the most dangerous place on Earth” elicited heated debates in Taiwan. Assuming that these analyses are correct, what do these analyses entail?
Written by Iweng Karsiwen and Ratih Kabinawa. Edited by Isabelle Cheng. A former domestic worker in Hong Kong for over ten years, Iweng Karsiwen is currently the Chair of Families of Indonesian Migrant Workers (Kabar Bumi). Initially she was recruited to work in Taiwan when the door opened for Indonesian women seeking domestic work there. However, instead of going to Taiwan, Iweng found herself arriving at a Hong Kong MTR station late one evening a year later. Knowing how the brokering industry functioned at home and abroad, after returning to Indonesia, Iweng was determined to help those who worked abroad and who faced similar challenges at various stage of their migration. She has particularly campaigned to outlaw salary reduction. This, as well as other practices mentioned by Iweng, are commonly adopted by brokers in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Written by Fabricio A. Fonseca. In the spring of 2020, the social media accounts of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Mexico City began to share posts made by Mexican federal legislators. In these posts, they showed appreciation for the donations made by Taiwan’s representatives in the country under the difficult circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, those donations consisted of food baskets and eventually included thousands of face masks. The different images of people across Mexico receiving boxes with the slogan “Taiwan Can Help” (TCH) made me think about how authorities on the island were using different instruments associated with non-traditional diplomacy.