U.S. and partners in East Asia lead on COVID-19

People with masks standing behind boxes (© Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images)
Joseph Wu, center, Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs, gestures during an April 15 ceremony in which Taiwan donated some 100 infrared thermal scanners to its diplomatic allies. (© Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States continues to work closely with democratic partners in East Asia to help contain the new coronavirus.

Authorities in Japan, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan relied on open communication to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in their borders and have stepped up with contributions to other parts of the world.

“Democracies … respond to crises well,” Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said at an April 7 press briefing. Democracies “share their resources, they help the entire world fight the global pandemic.”

Here are a few examples.


A collection of screenshots of various people (© VTV/AP Images)
In this screen grab from a video provided by Vietnamese national television VTV, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe speaks to ASEAN Plus Three leaders during a virtual COVID-19 summit on April 14. (© VTV/AP Images)

Japan is planning to work with its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbors to help develop an ASEAN Center for Infectious Diseases.

“In order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and lead to their convergence, it is important to cooperate with ASEAN and the East Asian region,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said in a tweet after a meeting with ASEAN. “Japan would like to exert its leadership in regional cooperation and collaboration.”

Republic of Korea

Within weeks of learning about the coronavirus outbreak that originated in China, officials in the Republic of Korea stood up laboratories to support testing of 20,000 citizens per day.

Having pioneered rapid widespread testing, the Republic of Korea is exporting millions of testing kits to countries in Asia and Europe and the United States.

Person walking by stacked boxes (© Wang Jingqiang/Xinhua/Getty Images)
Boxes of masks donated by Cheonan, the Republic of Korea, to the city of Weihai in east China’s Shandong province are seen at Incheon International Airport in the Republic of Korea on January 29. (© Wang Jingqiang/Xinhua/Getty Images)

The U.S.–Republic of Korea alliance “is ironclad and we’re grateful to [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] for helping make this purchase” possible, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Harry Harris tweeted April 14.


Taiwan, with a population of more than 20 million, has had fewer than 500 cases of COVID-19, in part because of its open approach.

Specialists there continue to share their expertise and resources. For example, Taiwan has donated 10 million masks to the European Union, the United States and its diplomatic allies, including:

  • 280,000 masks to Honduras.
  • 181,000 masks, 81,000 hand sanitizers and sundry medical equipment to Guatemala.
  • 60,000 medical masks to Belize.
  • 1 million masks and 100,000 surgical caps to Paraguay.
  • Thermal cameras, masks and other sanitary equipment to Haiti.

Taiwan also helped build a provisional hospital in Guatemala and COVID-19 wards in Honduras, and it has provided consulting with hospitals in Belize, Guatemala, Paraguay, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Taiwan’s “openness and generosity in the global battle against [COVID-19] is a model for the world,” Pompeo said April 8.