Taipei’s success story: 800 thousand foreigners moved there in 2020

Political stability, success in the fight against the pandemic and economic dynamism underpin the influx. Talents attracted by the opportunities offered by the tech giants. The arrival of journalists also growing. Beijing’s anger: the US strengthens diplomatic ties with the Taiwanese authorities.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Nearly 800,000 foreigners moved to Taiwan for work reasons in 2020. Given the restrictions on international travel due to the pandemic, those recently provided by the National Immigration Administration are exceptional numbers: 24,000 more arrivals than in 2018.

Democratic Taiwan has been the most successful nation in the fight against the coronavirus. With nearly 24 million inhabitants, a density of 650 per sq. km (tenth in the world), not only has Taiwan effectively contained the pandemic, it has also achieved greater economic results than China in 2020.

According to official data and expert calculations, Chinese GDP closed 2020 with a + 2.1%: The Taiwanese figure is between +2.3 and + 2.5%. The Taipei Ministry for Commerce and Industry also revealed that numerous Taiwanese companies long been present in China have brought their activities back to the island: this means investments to the tune of 1,100 billion Taiwanese dollars (32 billion euros), which have generated 100,000 new jobs.

Political stability, healthcare results and economic dynamism have favoured the influx of foreign talents, especially in the technological field, the flagship of the local industry. Over the past three years, the Tsai Ingwen government has facilitated the procedures for granting residence permits. Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, IBM and Qualcomm, who continue to expand their operations on the island, are also helping.

Of the foreigners who settled in Taiwan last year, 820 are businessmen. At least 124 are journalists who choose the island to cover news on China. Residing in Chinese territory they would risk legal problems, if not prison. The Chinese government imprisoned the most journalists in 2020, according to December data published by Reporters Without Borders, out of 387 reporters detained around the world, 117 are in China.

The Taiwanese authorities explain that the favourable health conditions incentivize the relocation of entire family groups. They especially appreciate the possibility for young people to attend school lessons safely, contrary the case in many parts of the world.

Taipei is increasingly seen as a model for its management of the pandemic. Beijing’s boycott of its entry into the Assembly of the World Health Organization has caused the reaction of many countries, which are demanding its admission.

China which still sees the island is a "rebellious" province, to be recaptured by force if necessary. In the face of repeated Chinese threats, Donald Trump's US administration had increased its support for the Taiwanese authorities.

Today the US ambassador to the Netherlands met with the Taiwanese charge d'affaires in the European state. On January 9, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted all formal restrictions on meetings between US and Taiwanese representatives, a decision that sparked protests in Beijing.