TAIPEI, Taiwan — As the coronavirus has upended lives and economies around the world, Taiwan has been an oasis.
Every day, droplets fly with abandon in packed restaurants, bars and cafes. Office buildings hum, and schools resound with the shrieks and laughter of maskless children. In October, a Pride parade drew an estimated 130,000 people to the streets of Taipei, the capital. Rainbow masks were abundant; social distancing, not so much.
This island of 24 million, which has seen just 10 Covid-19 deaths and fewer than 1,000 cases, has used its success to sell something in short supply: living without fear of the coronavirus. The relatively few people who are allowed to enter Taiwan have been coming in droves, and they’ve helped to fuel an economic boom.
“For a while, Taiwan felt a little empty. A lot of people moved abroad and only came back once in a while,” said Justine Li, the head chef at Fleur de Sel, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the city of Taichung, which she said had been booked up for a month in advance since the fall. “Now, some of those once-in-a-while guests have moved back.”
Eddie Huang, the Taiwanese-American restaurateur and author. About 270,000 more Taiwanese entered the island than left it in 2020, according to the immigration authorities — about four times the net inflow of the previous year.
expects 4.6percent growth in 2021, which would be the fastest pace in seven years.
Steve Chen, 42, a Taiwanese-American entrepreneur who co-founded YouTube, was the first to sign up for the gold card program. He moved to the island from San Francisco with his wife and two children in 2019. Then, after the pandemic hit, many of his friends in Silicon Valley, particularly those with Taiwanese heritage, began to join him — a reverse brain drain, of sorts.