Written by Ian Inkster. When attempting a summary prediction of Taiwan’s political economy in January of 2019, I admitted that even annual forecasting can look very foolish, especially during the decline in democratic systems perceived at that time and the importance of complex external commercial relations to the country’s growth and welfare. The forecaster turns idiot with awful speed. I asked to be forgiven during the gentle days of Chinese New Year! Like everyone, I did not predict the coming Covid 19.
Written by Chieh-chi Hsieh. If anything is troubling the incumbent government led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), it would not be the external threats imposed by China. On the contrary, China’s continuous assertive actions toward Taiwan have become the DPP government’s greatest asset, enabling the mobilisation of domestic support observed after President Tsai’s National Day speech, which gathered 67.9% of residents’ approval based on a public survey.
Written by Tzu-Ming Liu. The outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly affected Taiwanese’ travel destination choices. One of the most significant changes is the recent boom of citizens’ participation in nature-based outdoor recreation. These changes have clear influences on the environment. Some are positive, and some are negative. This impact can be observed in Taroko National Park and Yushan National Park. However, for destinations that have been heavily impacted by tourism, such as Lanyu, the sudden tourist increase makes environmental problems much worse.
Written by Roman Shemakov. As the metabolic flow of a city is commandeered by a virus, urban sensing is amplified. The proximity of animals, people, and capital in markets is one of the foundational functions of city life. Random evolutions of ingenuity, community, and viruses thus become a natural by-product of urban proximity. Since the invention of every technology (and a city is certainly a technological mechanism) is also an invention of a new accident, we must think of viruses as a feature of cities, not an anomaly.
Written by Kai-Ping Huang. To fight against Covid-19, there is only one solution for every country striving for a return to normality: vaccination. Herd immunity is the goal as advanced countries aim to vaccinate at least 75 per cent of their citizens. The discovery of different variants worldwide makes booster shots increasingly necessary to prevent severe symptoms even for the fully vaccinated. Although speed is vital, it is also essential to determine the proper order of vaccinations.
Written by Brian Hioe. Vaccines have proved a contentious issue in Taiwan from the beginning. As the first vaccines that arrived in Taiwan were AstraZeneca vaccines, the Taiwanese public was initially unwilling to get vaccinated. The public was discouraged from being vaccinated by reports of blood clots and other adverse reactions after using AstraZeneca. As Taiwan had gone for more than a year mostly COVID-free, it is probable that members of the public did not see the need to get vaccinated.
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.