October 10, known as Double Ten Day in Taiwan, commemorates the founding of the Republic of China in 1911. Taiwanese diplomatic missions across the world often celebrate the holiday with a big dinner party with local host government officials to highlight ties with Taiwan. However, this year with COVID-19 still looming large, the Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office (TECRO) in Atlanta celebrated Double Ten Day virtually on October 10. The virtual celebration featured former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, while elected Georgia officials, including Senator Kelly Loeffler, Rep. Drew Ferguson, Rep. Barry Loudermilk, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, sent messages commemorating the US-Taiwan relationship, Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 , and Taiwan’s continued economic partnership with the US.
Within the close US-Taiwan relationship, Taiwan also has close state-level relationships in the United States. Given that Atlanta is home to the TECRO office representing Southeastern United States, Atlanta is a major regional hub for the Taiwanese community and has an over four-decade long sister city relationship with Taipei. From a business standpoint, Atlanta has a large Taiwanese business presence and is often touted by the Taiwanese as a prime location for business in the US. As a result, Taiwanese FDI in the region is expected to steadily increase.
Taiwan is often hailed as a COVID-19 success story recording just seven deaths among a population of 24 million. As a result of Taiwan’s success in halting the spread, the Taiwanese government launched the “Taiwan Can Help” campaign to spread awareness on mask-wearing and health precautions, prompting the government to donate masks to various diplomatic allies. Since April of 2020, the Taiwanese government has imported over 10 million face masks to the US, Europe, Japan, and other diplomatic allies around and beyond the Indo-Pacific since April.
Through the Taiwan Can Help campaign, over three million masks were imported to the United States since April. Georgia’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency received about 100,000 medical masks along with 10,000 N95 masks from the Taiwanese government. Along with masks from the Taiwanese government, the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei donated 5,000 medical masks to the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Private sector mask donations from Taiwan are symbolic of the sister city relationship between the two countries and how COVID-19 has brought the two cities closer together during the pandemic.
Hanna Foreman is a Research Intern in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a recent graduate of the James Madison College at Michigan State University with a major in International Relations and a minor in Korean.