As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague the world, Taoyuan is sparing no effort to help its sister cities and other friends around the globe by sending supplies such as masks, protective gowns, sanitizers, goggles, and gloves to help in their combat against the virus. The municipality’s Taoyuan Helps campaign has attracted media attention and has warmed the hearts of the city’s friends abroad.
Through its many contributions to the fight against the pandemic, Taiwan has become a model for the world, says Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan. In line with President Tsai Ing-wen’s Taiwan Can Help policy statement, the city government has succeeded in pooling resources from the private sector and donating much needed materials to friends overseas.
Taoyuan-based Mytrex is a manufacturer of melt-blown nonwoven fabric, which serves as the key filter in surgical masks. Founded by president Yang Min-sheng in 1990, the company is primarily devoted to making nonwoven fabrics and specialized medical devices with innovative designs. Due to its rich experience in the melt-blowing process spanning over 30 years, the company was asked to take part in the mask-making national team at the outset of the pandemic.
In making melt-blown nonwoven fabric, Taiwan used to depend on imported equipment and spare parts when setting up production lines. This year Mytrex invested NT$45 million to build Taiwan’s first indigenous production line, vastly increasing the country’s capacity for making the material. In the next phase, the company’s goal is to expand its manufacturing facility to meet future market demand. It also expects to engage in technical cooperation with customers in Europe, the U.S., and Southeast Asia with the goal of building the company’s capacity for integrating and exporting production lines for making the fabric so that manufacturing facilities can be set up around the globe.
In the first week after the ban on mask exports was lifted, Mytrex donated 100,000 surgical masks to Taoyuan’s sister cities in the U.S. as part of the municipality’s effort to promote people-to-people diplomacy. In addition, hospitals under the Min-Sheng Group have made huge contributions to the medical service and preparation of supplies needed to fight against COVID-19 in Taoyuan City.
Two other Taoyuan companies – Singtex and GFun – joined hands to also become members of the textile national team. Using shell fabric made by Singtex, GFun developed a high-end washable and reusable protective gown by adding a process that makes the fabric both waterproof and breathable. The product represents an upgrade in safety, allowing medical personnel to work while well protected without compromising their comfort. It is also environmentally friendly because of the potential for reducing the number of disposable gowns that need to be used. As a result, the company was selected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs to make protective gowns during the pandemic.
Both GFun Chairman Jason Chen and President Tsai Chiu-hsiung fully supported the effort, saying it is “necessary for medical personnel to have no worries when they are on the battlefield fighting the pandemic.” Taking advantage of GFun’s annual production capacity of more than one million gowns, the city government pooled resources from various private-sector entities including the Taoyuan Enterprise Chamber and donated nearly 20,000 GFun gowns to Thailand and the Japanese cities of Chiba, Narita, and Kaga to demonstrate that not only can Taiwan help, but Taoyuan can help as well.
Supervisor Curt Hagman, chief of the California county of San Bernardino with which Taoyuan has maintained a close relationship, said in a letter that he hopes for an early end to the pandemic so that direct flights between the Taoyuan and Ontario airports can resume as soon as possible. Taoyuan and San Bernardino have cheered up each other by exchanging tweets, and according to media reports Hagman highly appreciated the goodwill reflected in supplies sent by the county’s friends in Taiwan.
For Dallas County in Texas, the donation of supplies such as gloves and gowns was made through the sistership committee of the Greater Dallas Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce. Similarly, with the help of the Taiwanese Association of America, Houston Chapter, 2,000 protective gowns were donated to the City of Houston. In all cases, it was made sure that the supplies went to those who need it the most.
Responsibility for handling all the goods, including customs declaration and clearance, the reporting of hazardous materials, and international logistical services, was given to Evergreen Logistics Corp. EVA Air, another company in the Evergreen Group, took care of the cargo shipments, ensuring smooth and timely delivery of the protective supplies to Taoyuan’s friends abroad.
Although many of Taoyuan’s overseas friends have had to cancel their planned visits because of COVID-19, the city government has maintained close contact with the cities around the world with which it is bound in friendship, says Yen Tzu-chieh, director-general of the Taoyuan city government secretariat. Besides actively sharing its coronavirus-fighting experience in virtual meetings organized by international organizations, Taoyuan continues to make strides in city-to-city diplomacy even amid a global pandemic.