SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Li Gang Zhe ”Taiwan, as an honor student in COVID-19 (Part-1)”
The 6th Asia Future Conference which was scheduled in August now postponed to next year due to COVID-19. Many people would like to know about Taiwan and the COVID-19 situation. So, I decided to write down in this essay.
I have visited Taiwan twice. My first visit to Taipei was in August 2000 as a part-time Secretary-General of the International Symposium sponsored by East Asia Research Institute. Since I am Chinese national, there were severe limitation to enter Taiwan.
I applied for visa one month before the symposium and luckily could get visa before three days. The symposium ended as scheduled and I went to Hsinchu (新竹) Industrial Town next day. But, due to strong typhoon, I returned to Taipei without visiting any places in Hsinchu. On the third day after the symposium, I got a chance to visit the office of Lee Tang-hui (the president of the Republic of China (Taiwan)) together with thirteen Japanese participants (including late-Kanamori Hisao, Advisor to Japan Center for Economic Research). We had a chat for two hours and it was very impressive.
In March 2016, as my second visit to Taiwan, I went to Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages (文藻外語大学)in Kaohsiung. I was invited there to make a lecture for One Asia Foundation. Since I had Japanese nationality, I could fly to Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei direct from Komatsu Airport (Japan) without visa. I enjoyed the visit to Kaohsiung and Taipei with my family for five days. During my visit to Kaohsiung, I learnt about its origin.
In Japanese rule age, Kaohsiung was called “takou” (打狗) (mean hit a dog originally) and Japanese understood “takao” and changed Chinese characters. I visited National Father, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei and learned about the “Republic of China” and its Father Dr. Sun Tat-Sen.
Coming back to the subject. How is the new coronavirus situation in Taiwan? We know Taiwan is the worldwide honor student in countermeasure against COVID-19. Then how is the real situation? It is said that the accrued number of infected persons in Taiwan is only 909 and the dead is 8. According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Ministry of Health and Welfare (Taiwan) announced on March 30 that only lady in the 80’s has died from the COVID-19 on March 29. The dead by COVID-19 was the first case in eight months since May 2020.
Taiwan had been controlling the pandemic till January 2021. But assemblage of infection happened at hospital in Taoyuan City during January. Doctors and nurses, who were in charge of treatment against COVID-19, and their families were infected one by one. Now 19 infections case are reported. The lady in the 80’s mentioned above is included in this number. The authorities concerned tightened their guards during the period especially from February 10th to 16th of the month, as the number of people’s coming and going increased due to Chinese New Year holidays.
I like to ask any Taiwanese, due to limitation of the number of words for the Essay, how to treat against COVID-19 in Taiwan.
Then, how is the Taiwan’s economy in the COVIV-19 pandemic?
I learned hard recently about Taiwan’s various reasons or circumstances, their viewpoints on international relations, especially under their standpoints between two big countries, America and China. Of course, I have studied a lot of materials about relations between Taiwan and China too for my lecture titled “Economic theory on East Asia”.
Firstly, the fact that Taiwan has worldwide honored student in the COVID-19 pandemic should be specially mentioned. Japanese media are giving a big raise in the growth rate of Chinese economy which is up by 2.3% from the previous year (I have doubt in this figure). But there is little information about the rate of other countries.
Actually economic growth rate in Taiwan is up 2.98% from the previous year. Taiwan exceeded China after thirty years. FYI, Vietnamese economic growth rate is up 2.91% which is the second after Taiwan. “Four Little Dragons”, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan are negative growth and Taiwan is the only winner. Share market prices have soared and marked historical high. New Taiwan Dollars has ascend soared. It is said that Taiwan economy regained their vitality after thirty years.
There are many causes for the growth. A lot of Taiwan enterprises came back from China because of trade conflicts between America and China and investment toward the United States and South-East Asian countries have increased. Orders for electronic components from the world increased also due to economic sanctions against HUAWEI Technologies Co., Ltd. Taiwanese gave up their overseas trip and changed to domestic trips. As a result, money flew back to domestic market instead of foreign markets.
Overseas travelers (outbounds)from Taiwan in 2019 was 18 million which is 80% of total population 23.6million. It will be one of the highest in the world. Outflow of foreign currency, which has been NT Dollars 800 billion in the past, contributed to economic growth of Taiwan because, i.e., foreign currencies to be used by Taiwanese overseas travelers which comes to cumulative total 210 million, changed to domestic travels. If economic growth in 2021 would continue to develop like this year, GDP per capita is expected to become NTD 30 thousand level (in 2011, they already exceeded 20 thousand level). This figure is advanced in countries level.
Now, Taiwan has worldwide honored student in correspondence against COVID-19 and gave an example to the world in economic growth too. WHO (World Health Organization) should utilize Taiwan’s experience for the world. But I am sorry to say that Taiwan is not paid attention by the United Nations or other International societies being twisted around by complicated and absurd International politics.
(to be continued)
SGRA Kawaraban 661 in Japanese (Original)
Li Gang Zhe / Professor Hokuriku University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala