Taiwan to donate over 1 million masks to New Southbound countries

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is planning to donate another round of surgical face masks overseas, this time with over a million pieces going to several countries targeted by the government’s New Southbound Policy (NSP), as well as other countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Tuesday.

At a press briefing in Taipei, the head of MOFA’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Baushuan Ger (葛葆萱), said the masks will be sent to about seven to eight NSP countries that have recently asked for help from Taiwan, as well as countries outside of the Asia-Pacific region.

The surgical masks will be provided primarily to healthcare workers in these countries to assist them in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Ger said.

An official familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named, told CNA that the countries will include Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Myanmar and Indonesia.

The 18 countries under the NSP, which was launched by the Democratic Progressive Party government after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, are the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along with Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.

Asked if Taiwan will also be donating masks to Japan or South Korea, both of which have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic since it first erupted in China last December, Ger said that neither of the two have so far asked for help.

With regard to four of its Pacific diplomatic allies — Palau, Nauru, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu — the MOFA official said the ministry is continuing to provide both technical and medical assistance to these countries in their efforts against COVID-19.

On April 1, the foreign ministry announced that Taiwan will be donating 10 million masks to countries seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the United States, 11 European countries and 15 of the country’s diplomatic allies.

Two million will be sent to the U.S., 1 million to the 15 allies, with the remaining 7 million going to Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Poland, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, according to a MOFA press release.

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