Remarks by AIT Director W. Brent Christensen
at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Hosts Webcast
April 24, 2020
(as prepared for delivery)
Thank you, Dean MacKenzie. And many thanks to Johns Hopkins University for hosting us all today. I am honored to participate in this webcast, which is just one of the many ways the United States and Taiwan are working together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S.-Taiwan partnership is characterized by the breadth and depth of our cooperation. Especially in the area of public health, this cooperation is robust and long-standing.
Our health agencies and experts have enjoyed decades of close collaboration. Many of Taiwan’s public health officials and leaders, including Vice President Chen, have trained and studied in the United States.
Here at the American Institute in Taiwan, we also have quite a few Johns Hopkins alumni, such as our medical officer, who graduated from the school of public health. These academic exchanges are part of the foundation of the strong people-to-people ties between the United States and Taiwan.
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control investigators have graduated from the U.S. CDC training program for epidemic intelligence. The U.S. National Institutes of Health has ongoing research cooperation with the Taiwan public and private sector, including on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
And a few weeks ago, the United States and Taiwan issued a joint statement announcing efforts to enhance cooperation on preventing the spread of COVID-19.
It is moments like this that give new meaning to U.S.-Taiwan relationship, which we describe in the expression: Real Friends, Real Progress. That is why Secretary of State Pompeo recently tweeted: During tough times, real friends stick together.
Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and force for good, has emerged as the global model for COVID-19 prevention, and countries around the world could benefit from more opportunities to learn about the Taiwan Model and other areas in which Taiwan has world class expertise.
Taiwan actively uses its own experiences and abilities to help others. For example, Taiwan is donating 16 million surgical masks to countries around the world, including the United States, where frontline medical workers are facing shortages.
Long before the current public health crisis, Taiwan was working with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean on capacity building projects. Taiwan worked with the government of eSwatini to improve maternal and infant health care. In the Pacific region, medical professionals from Taiwan help provide health care to the people of Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, and Palau.
Since 2015, the United States has been working with Taiwan to co-host workshops under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework. The goal of these workshops is to share U.S. and Taiwan expertise on a variety of topics where Taiwan has demonstrated strengths and expertise. We have worked with Taiwan to organize workshops for countries around the Asia-Pacific region on combating Dengue fever, Zika, Ebola, MERS, Chikungunya, and tuberculosis.
In the coming weeks, our cooperation will also address COVID-19-related disinformation, so that we can ensure our communities have access to accurate and up-to-date information on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Taiwan does not have to spend its taxpayers’ money to help others. It is not required to devote the expertise of its agencies and private sector to addressing crises around the world. But it does, and it does so willingly.
This forum is a perfect example of why Taiwan is a reliable partner and a force for good, sharing both its expertise and its resources with governments, universities, and public health institutions all around the world.
The United States is eager to work with Taiwan to promote the Taiwan Model for fighting pandemic diseases. As President Tsai noted in her April 16 article in Time magazine, Taiwan’s “success is no coincidence.” The most fundamental element of the Taiwan Model is transparency: transparency between the authorities and the public in Taiwan, and transparency between Taiwan and the international community. The Taiwan Model, which is one of the most effective in the world, is the product of a democratic system.
I am very pleased to participate in today’s webcast that features Taiwan’s Vice President and preeminent epidemiologist Dr. Chen Chien-jen. Taiwan was fortunate that he was health minister during the 2003 SARS crisis and now as Vice President during the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward to hearing his insights today about how to best handle the COVID-19 public health crisis. Thank you.