A donation of 100,000 medical masks from Taiwan arrived this week in Georgia, the only state in the Southeast to get a portion of the 1 million units in the island’s latest contribution to the fight against COVID-19 in the U.S.
Despite its proximity to mainland China, where the coronavirus originated, Taiwan has been lauded for an aggressive approach to tame the outbreak early on, enabling companies and the government to turn their attention outward. The island counted just 428 cases as of Friday, with only six deaths. Georgia’s caseload, meanwhile, topped 22,000, and nearly 900 people had died in the state.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry facilitated the latest donation, which brings the total to 3 million masks donated by Taiwan to the United States during the pandemic. Overall Taiwan has pledged to distribute more than 10 million to its friends and diplomatic allies.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Atlanta, the de facto consulate covering six states, delivered the masks to the Georgia Department of Public Health warehouse in Kennesaw Tuesday.
Acting Director-General Daniel Hung handed them over to Deputy Director Charles Dawson of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, which is in charge of distributing personal protective equipment to hospitals in need.
The state’s Republican political leaders thanked Taiwan for the donation and for four decades of partnership during an election year when many of them are growing increasingly hawkish toward China.
They accuse China’s Communist Party leadership for covering up the virus after it emerged in December, speeding its spread around the world.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who praised Taiwan Tuesday for “offering a helping hand” to Georgia, the next day called for President Trump to use the next round of trade negotiations with China “to ensure that the Chinese Communist Party is held accountable for the economic and societal hardship our country has suffered from the coronavirus.”
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who is challenging Ms. Loeffler in November, said in a letter to Mr. Trump shouldn’t trust China to ensure the safety of citrus fruit it plans to export to the U.S., since the “COVID-19 pandemic has shown us all firsthand that we cannot trust the word of the Chinese government.”
Gov. Brian Kemp reportedly sent a letter to President Tsai Ing-wen stressing the state’s support for Taiwan’s efforts.
“It is an honor to stand alongside you as you continue to set the standard for camaraderie and support within the international community,” the governor’s letter to President Tsai read, according to the TECO office’s news release.
Stressing that “Taiwan can help!” in an international campaign, Taiwan has been touting its role as a responsible stakeholder to counter China’s influence in multilateral organizations. Mr. Trump has been supportive of Taiwan as he has sought to reorient the U.S. trade relationship with China. On March 26 he signed into law the unanimously passed TAIPEI Act encouraging other countries to upgrade their relationships with the island. Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, is a sister city of Atlanta.
China considers self-ruled Taiwan as as province, keeping it locked out of the U.N.-affiliated World Health Organization’s annual general assembly.
Taiwan has asserted that it was left out of early WHO coronavirus briefings where it could have brought vital information that may have helped stem the outbreak sooner.
World leaders have renewed calls for Taiwan to regain its seat at the table, and President Trump has halted U.S. funding of the WHO pending an investigation of its alleged deference to China in handling the pandemic.
For more on Taiwan’s COVID-19 response, read a commentary from Acting Director-General Hung on Global Atlanta: Opinion: ‘Taiwan Model’ Offers Lessons for Pandemic Fight, Despite WHO Exclusion and Accusations