Taiwan’s local diplomatic office is never shy when it comes to holiday celebrations, often hosting highly visible soirees that attract substantial crowds.
This year, that was impossible due to the pandemic, particularly given that much fo the island’s resurgent diplomatic momentum in the world is based on its handling of the coronavirus.
Taiwan has recorded just seven deaths among a population of 24 million, and the island has used its position of strength as a chance to help others while scoring some geopolitical points, donating masks and personal protective equipment to friendly governments around the world.
The Southeast U.S. has been among the major beneficiaries, with Georgia’s emergency management agency alone having received some 100,000 medical masks and another 10,000 N95 masks — other private industry associations and companies have also received batches. Taiwan has launched the “Taiwan Can Help” campaign (including advertising on this website) around the world to highlight its ability to contribute to the pandemic response, especially through multilateral bodies like the World Health Organization where China has frozen it out.
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National Day is traditionally held on “Double Ten” day every year, with this year’s 109th anniversary hearkening back to the formation of the Republic of China in 1911.
Faced with the prospect of a virtual celebration, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta put together a 16-minute video marshaling an array of heavy-hitting supporters from across its 10-state region.
Legislators and elected officials from around the South poured on the praise, thanking Taiwan for its assistance in fighting the pandemic and its broader economic partnership. Among them was former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
In Georgia, Sen. Kelly Loeffler — who has made a habit of bashing mainland China — sent best wishes via a typed letter.
Rep. Drew Ferguson, a Republican from the third district in West Georgia, pointed to the 41st anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act and thanked Taiwan for relaxing restrictions on the import of American beef, which is widely seen as a prerequisite for starting talks on a free-trade agreement.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Republican from the 11th district, reiterated the U.S.’s strong defense ties with Taiwan.
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Price, who left his sixth-district seat in Atlanta’s northern suburbs to serve as President Trump’s first secretary of health and human services, joined a private call with the TECO office, asking Director General Elliot Wang how the island was doing.
Mr. Wang welcomed the chance to tout Taiwan’s success, having recorded only 510 cases throughout the entire pandemic. Gatherings of tens of thousands of people have been allowed and life has returned to a cautious normalcy.
“We had only two weeks delay for school back in February. Other than that there was no lockdown at all in Taiwan. Right now, people are going to restaurants any time they want, but always with their masks. I think that is why we can handle this pandemic so well, because people follow the rules to protect themselves and other people surrounding them,” Mr. Wang said.
Mr. Wang pointed to the recent visit to Taiwan by Mr. Price’s successor, Alex Azar, as proof of increasing bilateral cooperation.
Also on the call was Haiti’s head of mission at its Atlanta consulate general, Roudelyne Nogar Jean. Haiti is one of the few countries in the world that retain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan; many have switched their allegiance to China under pressure from the mainland.