Taiwan – A leader in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

Taiwan – A leader in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

Understandably, most Western media covering the coronavirus/covid-19 pandemic have
concentrated on the countries which suffered the highest infection and mortality rates, namely
Italy and Iran, and the varying efforts of the European nations, the United States and China,
where the virus originated. Less has been said about Taiwan, which because of its proximity to
China, like North and South Korea, would appear to have a greater risk of national infections of
the virus.
As reported in The Economist 1 , following the SARS epidemic in 2003 Taiwan set up a Central
Epidemic Control Center (CECC) which was empowered to react immediately to any new
epidemic. Fortunately, the current Vice-President Chen-Chien-jen, is an epidemiologist and
former Health Minister. After learning of the new threat emanating from Wohan, in January
20th President Tsai Ing-Wen authorized the CECC to spring into action thereby immediately able
to implement measures to counter this new threat.
The results of these actions have been gratifying. As of April 5th Taiwan, with a population of
24 million, had experienced only 363 infections and 5 deaths, far fewer than neighboring
countries. The obvious conclusion is that governments concerned with the well-being of their
citizens should take similar actions to be able to quickly mobilize the assets needed to minimize
the devastation that a pandemic can cause.
However, democracies which require a consensus to implement such measures are at a
handicap compared to autocracies in which a single individual can order such action. Xi
Janping, President of the Peoples Republic of China and general secretary of the Chinese
Communist Party, has often stressed the advantages of an autocratic government as an
alternative to democratic rule. His assertion has been strongly rejected by the governments of
Taiwan, and the city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore, which all have majority Chinese
populations who prize their freedoms more than any “efficiencies” of a totalitarian rule by

The Foundation for International Freedom supports all those who seek freedom.

Byron K. Varme

Executive Director

1 See Banyan, “An Island at the Ready”, The Economist, March28-April 23, 2020