Taiwan gives 400,000 masks to U.S. under cooperation arrangement

04/09/2020 09:21 PM
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Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu (left) and AIT Director Brent Christensen. Photo taken from AIT Facebook page

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) A batch of 400,000 surgical face masks was handed over to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) on Wednesday, the first part of Taiwan's pledged donation of 100,000 masks per week, under a joint effort with the U.S. to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday.

Under the arrangement, the two countries agreed to assist each other with medical equipment and supplies, including 100,000 medical face masks from Taiwan per week and raw material from the U.S. to make 300,000 medical protective suits in Taiwan.

A statement on the bilateral cooperation was signed March 18 by Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Brent Christensen, and the first shipment of masks from Taiwan was delivered Wednesday, according to MOFA.

"A total of 400,000 surgical face masks for the month of April were handed over to the U.S.," MOFA said in a press release.

The ministry also said Taiwan has dispatched a separate donation of 1 million surgical face masks to the U.S. federal government and 1 million to American states in dire need of personal protective equipment.

In addition to the 2 million face masks, Taiwan will also donate another 1 million masks to American states that are severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak, as part of its upcoming "second round" of humanitarian assistance to countries in Asia, Europe and America, MOFA said.

Taiwan will continue its cooperative efforts with the U.S. to fight the coronavirus outbreak under the terms of the arrangement and other existing mechanisms, MOFA said.

It said Taiwan will also work with other like-minded countries to share information, develop a COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, and supply medical equipment.

In a tweet Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Taiwan for its generosity.

"During tough times, real friends stick together," Pompeo tweeted. "The U.S. is thankful to Taiwan for donating 2 million face masks to support our healthcare workers on the frontlines. Your openness and generosity in the battle against COVID-19 is a model for the world."

The AIT expressed similar sentiments in a Facebook post Thursday.

"We are especially thankful for Taiwan's donation of surgical masks to frontline medical professionals in the United States, some of which they delivered to AIT yesterday," the AIT said, adding that it looks forward to expanding U.S.-Taiwan cooperation on preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office (NTIO), the de facto Netherlands embassy in Taiwan, also thanked Taiwan for its donation of 600,000 surgical face masks, saying they were "600,000 pieces of love."

"This genuine friendship under the threat of a pandemic will be extended from resource sharing, experience exchange, to technological cooperation," the NTIO said in a Facebook post. "We believe we will witness more exchanges between the Netherlands and Taiwan in the future."

The shipment to the Netherlands, which arrived April 7, was part of Taiwan's pledged donation of 7 million surgical face masks to 11 European countries, according to MOFA.

The German Institute Taipei also expressed appreciation to Taiwan on Thursday, saying in a Facebook post that the surgical face masks donated by Taiwan were due to arrive in Frankfurt April 9.

(By Emerson Lim)

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