Europe, U.S. leaders thank Taiwan for mask donation pledge

04/02/2020 12:48 PM
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Image taken from twitter.com/vonderleyen)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Image taken from twitter.com/vonderleyen)

Brussels and Washington, April 1 (CNA) Political leaders from Europe and the United States thanked Taiwan Wednesday for pledging to donate 10 million surgical face masks to help countries seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gesture, which President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced that day, will send 7 million masks to Europe -- of which 5.6 million will go to nine European Union member states, with the remainder for the United Kingdom and Switzerland -- 2 million to the United States and 1 million to Taiwan's 15 diplomatic allies.

Taiwan will also donate 100,000 face masks per week to the United States under a Taiwan-U.S. epidemic prevention cooperation framework, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Wednesday.

In response to the announcement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen thanked Taiwan in a Twitter post, calling the donation a "gesture of solidarity" that shows the two sides to be "stronger together" in the fight against the coronavirus.

The post also marked the first time a European Commission president has directly addressed Taiwan in an official communication.

In the United States, meanwhile, a spokesperson for the State Department told CNA that Taiwan's COVID-19 response provides a successful model from which the rest of the world should learn.

"Taiwan is not just a democratic success story, but a true friend in times of need, for which the American people are deeply grateful," the official said, adding that the U.S. looks forward to further partnering with Taiwan in the fight against the coronavirus.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brett Christensen visited Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) Wednesday to personally thank Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) for the donation.

In a post on its Facebook page, the AIT said the donation proved Taiwan to be a "real friend" and said the "urgently needed masks will go to front-line medical workers across the United States."

Among other U.S. politicians to express thanks for the donation was Senator Cory Gardner, who noted that his home state of Colorado will receive 100,000 masks, or 10 percent of the overall donation.

Florida Representative Ted Yoho, meanwhile, contrasted Taiwan's donation with what he called the "negligent" response of the Chinese government.

The "World Health Organization should rethink their allegiances when it comes to global health security," Yoho wrote in a Twitter post.

Taiwan's announcement of the donations came as the country's daily output of surgical masks hit 13 million, more than four times the 3.2 million masks per day it produced in early February.

In her speech Wednesday, Tsai said the government aims to further increase daily production to 15 million units.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Hsu Wei-ting and Matthew Mazzetta)

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