U.S. National Security Council thanks Taiwan for pledged mask donations (update)
Washington, April 2 (CNA) The United States White House National Security Council (NSC) on Thursday thanked Taiwan for its support in the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in response to President Tsai Ing-wen's(蔡英文) announcement the previous day that Taiwan would donate 2 million surgical face masks to the U.S.
"We thank the people of Taiwan for their generous support and collaboration as we continue our fight against the coronavirus," the presidential advisory body tweeted.
The message was linked to a Reuters news story that detailed Taiwan's plan to spend an estimated NT$1.05 trillion (US$35 billion) to battle the coronavirus and to donate 10 million masks to countries seriously affected by the pandemic.
The donation, which Tsai announced Wednesday, will allocate 2 million surgical masks to the U.S., 1 million to Taiwan's diplomatic allies, and 7 million to Europe, with 5.6 million going to nine European Union member states and the remainder to the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
According to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), 100,000 masks per week will also be shipped to the U.S. under a bilateral epidemic prevention cooperation agreement.
The donation pledges followed a large-scale effort in Taiwan to increase its mask production, which has grown from 3.2 million per day in early February to around 13 million at present.
The U.S. has been hard hit by the virus in recent weeks, with nearly a quarter of a million cases and 5,911 deaths reported as of Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The open response by the NSC to Taiwan's face mask pledge can be seen as a substantial advancement in already warm Taiwan-U.S. relations, a retired MOFA official told CNA.
"The NSC is directly under the U.S. president. Compared to the Department of State, it is even closer to the U.S. president and deals with a broader range of issues," the former diplomat said.
"In view of the trend, Taiwan's foreign service personnel may be able to establish direct communication with the NSC, aside from their direct communications with the State Department."
The tweet may also be interpreted as a signal to Beijing that discussions on Taiwan-U.S. affairs may be normalized and more direct in the future within the NSC, he said.
He warned, however, that the furthering of Taiwan-U.S. relations may signal a tenser U.S.-China relationship in many fields, including military affairs, and Taiwan should beware of power struggles between the two giants.
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