Written by Chia-Shuo Tang. This article is a story about Taiwan’s multi-million US dollars health aid in an African country and its aftermath. It involves two hospitals, some doctors, several aid agencies, and a global pandemic intersecting at the dawn of the 21st century. In addition, this story is about how a Taiwanese hospital turned a bilateral medical aid mission into a non-governmental endeavour after severing diplomatic ties between the two countries.
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 Leo Chang and Alan H. Yang. Taiwan’s effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a growing number of countries to support Taiwan’s membership in the World Health Organization (WHO).
Written by Chih-Wei Chen. In recent decades, the world is facing increasingly severe challenges caused by climate change, natural disasters, worldwide public health issues, and so on. To combat the challenges, the United Nations officially launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 and advocated that all countries around the world endeavour to cooperate to achieve the goals. On the other hand, the advent of the digital era and the rapid development of digital technologies, such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), have provided new opportunities for people to implement sustainable development measures.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. Recent international developments have prompted some to speculate that we are in the midst of a critical juncture for Taiwan’s bid for admission to the United Nations (UN). On the plus side, Taiwan has received considerable international recognition for its successful policy responses toward the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is arguable that this in itself will increase the odds for its campaign to join the UN.
Written by Robert S. Wang. While most people agree we need to probe into the origin of the current Coronavirus pandemic, many continue to urge that we initially focus on containing the pandemic and address the broad issues of cause later on. This is also what China’s President Xi Jinping proposed in his speech, along with the offer of $2 billion in assistance, at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly meeting on May 18.
Written by T.Y. Wang. With its recent dispute with the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the island country has grabbed international headlines again, which may aid its efforts to join the international health organisation. Responding to a question from a reporter, and without providing any evidence, Tedros claimed that the Taipei government was behind recent death threats and racist online attacks against him.
Written by Lien-yi Hsu. Although the Taiwanese authorities may harm the rule of law in their epidemic prevention strategies, I still believe that Taiwan’s society still has the energy to resist if such measures go too far and damage the foundations of democracy. Hence, if Taiwan’s parliament can impose a robust public health bureaucracy, it could be argued that some preventative, legislative restrictions – which would work to limit democratic damage during the pandemic — would naturally be a better option.
Written by T.Y. Wang and Ching-Hsin Yu. The worsening prospect of the pandemic has led to two dozen state governments taking drastic measures by ordering all residents to stay in their homes, restricting the movement of more than 200 million Americans. As a result, schools are shut down, restaurants are closed, and the airlines have dramatically reduced their scheduled flights. The American economy has ground to a halt with a record 3.3 million Americans applying for unemployment benefits. In contrast, several thousands of miles away, Taiwan has been able to keep the number of coronavirus infections relatively low.
Written by Abby Huang. Since COVID-19 began spreading across Europe in February, the name “Taiwan” leapt on to the mastheads of major news organizations. One after another, international press published reports on Taiwan’s disease prevention measures and compared them with those of their own countries.
Written by Ming-yeh T. Rawnsley. When the International Journal of Taiwan Studies (IJTS) 3.1 published a topical section on ‘Taiwan, Public Diplomacy, and the World Health Assembly (WHA)’ in February/March 2020, we could hardly have participated that the world would soon be managing an epidemiological crisis on a scale not seen since the threat of Spanish Flu in 1918.
Written by Shu-Hua Shih. Only a narrow strait lies between Taiwan and China, and cultural and economic interactions between the two are unceasing and abundant. On these grounds, many across the globe assumed that Taiwan would be the place outside China that is most seriously impacted by the COVID-19 virus.