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.
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 Ian Inkster. On 28 May, just after the Taiwanese authorities had apparently rejected outright Beijing’s offer to supply Covid 19 vaccines to Taiwan, Hsiao Bi-khim was urgently requesting from the USA ‘access to safe and effective vaccines.’ By 3 June, we knew that Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines had been approved by both WHO and Covax Facility for distribution to other nations, that many millions of vaccines have been sent out from China to Africa and Asia, and that whatever the political interpretation, these vaccines were offered early to Taiwan free of charge.
Written by Chih-Wei Chen. Over the past 18 months, the whole world has been severely challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused enormous numbers of infections and deaths, as well as economic recessions worldwide. Many countries took a series of actions to contain the spread of coronavirus, such as large-scale lockdowns and the provision of economic stimulate. Taiwan has often been positioned as a success story in terms of pandemic management. It did this largely by harnessing the national digital power, the core of which lies in the flexible and meaningful employment of technologies in governance, and supporting this with comprehensive policy planning for the whole society.
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.
Written by Julien Laporte. Following the closing of Taiwan international borders in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tao people have seen an unexpectedly high number of visitors on their territory. Since 2020, they have been experiencing the consequences of that overtourism that calls for respectful and sustainable tourism.