Written by Chih-chien Lin. Mark Twain once said ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.’ On December 31st, 2019, the WHO office in Beijing reported unknown pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. On February 23rd, 2020, right before Chinese New Year, governments enforced large-scale traffic control (aka lockdown) in Wuhan. On February 27th, the Central Epidemic Command Centre in Taiwan gave its highest alert. It was a serious warning about the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic.
Written by Paulina G. Karimova and Kuang-Chung Lee. Discussion of resilience and adaptive capacity of Taiwan’s scenic rural areas has never been more pertinent than at the times of COVID-19. Over 2020-2021, these two seemingly academic terms have promptly secured their spot in local vocabulary (as 韌性 and 調適能力) and became an intrinsic part of hands-on local solutions.
Written by Viola van Onselen. Tourism can significantly burden the natural environment, such as developing hotels or campsites in fragile ecosystems, pollution, or noise disturbance. The fact that tourism leads to environmental degradation has led to sustainable or eco-tourism, a concept that aims to minimise the impact on the natural environment and maintain tourism over a long period in one area while educating tourists and benefitting the social, economic and natural environment.
Written by Ming-sho Ho. Sitting right at the fracture zone between Eurasian Plate and Philippine Sea Plate, Taiwan is an outgrowth of their incessant continental collision, thus making this island mountainous and ecologically rich. The Japanese archipelago shares a similar geological location. Still, Taiwan has ten times more peaks over 3,000 meters above sea level (268) than Japan, although the land size is only the latter’s one-tenth. From the tropical fluvial plain, one can drive through the temperate-zone mountain and reach the highest point of Taiwan’s highway (3,275 meters) in few hours, where flora and fauna are analogous to that in the frigid zone. Yet, until recently, most of the island residents did not have the opportunity to enjoy this natural heritage.
Written by Tsung-Mei Cheng. For much of the past eighteen months, the world has been under siege from the Covid-19 pandemic. Since January 2020, when the novel virus was first reported, the scourge has claimed more than four million lives and 189 million confirmed cases around the globe. In the Covid-19 saga spanning continents, damaging economies, and taking lives, Taiwan stood out as a poster child of success in preventing large outbreaks and keeping its economy growing at the same time.
Written by Chih-Wei Chen. As we know, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the deficiencies of current systems in human society. As an echo of the 74th World Health Assembly, people, governments and organisations must reflect on current systems and devote themselves to shaping more robust systems. Digital technologies provided new possibilities to address the issue. However, digital technologies bring not only opportunities but also challenges and risks. Hence, how to meaningfully employ digital technologies becomes necessary for pandemic prevention and is the key to further implement UN SDGs. Taiwan’s experience in COVID-19 prevention has provided some insights into the meaningful employment of digital technologies meanwhile addressing the challenges.
Written by Mark Wenyi Lai. Because of Taiwan’s COVID-19 pandemic control policies, the ruling and opposition parties agree on a national partial lockdown and vaccine distribution. However, they disagree on vaccine purchase and testing policy. This essay argued that there is more consensus than discord and the reason rested on Taiwan’s unique political-economic status. Here are their debates.
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 Wen-Chin Wu, Greg Sheen, Hans H. Tung, Chien-Hui Wu. As COVID-19 began to spread from China to the world in early 2020, experts predicted that Taiwan would have “the world’s second-worst outbreak after China” ). Nevertheless, Taiwan was almost COVID-19-free until mid-May 2021 due to a set of successful policies, such as strict border control, population-based contact tracing of confirmed cases, and encouragement to wear facial masks. The “normal” pre-COVID-19 life lasted for almost one year until May 19, 2021, when Taiwan declared a nationwide COVID-19 Level 3 alert. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan since early 2020 had soared from 1,132 on May 1 to 8,511 on May 31, 2021.
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.