Play On: This is getting surreal

(NB: Excuse the flag waving here, especially since I’m not a citizen.)

As mentioned before, Taiwan’s CPBL season is underway.  The games are in empty stadiums for the time being because of social distancing (likely to be 2020’s “word of the year”).  Several teams have placed cardboard cut outs, robot drummers and played music during the games to give the feeling of having crowds until the fans are allowed in.

Games are not being broadcast internationally on TV as I thought, but online viewing is available.  Richard Wang (a bilingual Taiwanese citizen) and Wayne McNeil (a 20 resident who speaks Mandarin) normally broadcast in Mandarin, but are now also calling games in English.  The Twitter feed is up to 3.6 million in the US alone.  Games may be on at 3-6AM in the US, but when you’ve got nothing else to do or watch….  Even the SBL’s championship series (game three on Friday) is being shown in other countries.

Sports are only a tiny part of the impact the country and government are having.  Sixteen million surgical masks and other medical equipment exported to various countries go a long way (e.g. ventilators)Machines to manufacture masks will be exported in the summerA Polish government charter flight landed today to pick up medical supplies.  Unfortunately, the plane landed two hours late because China refused to allow the plane to fly through their airspace, forcing it to fly across Thailand and Vietnam.  More below the fold.

This has been a big foreign policy win, and a huge poke in the eye to Beijing.  While open, democratic government and effective handling of the crisis may not yet have gotten official recognition at the UN or WHO membership, it certainly is making fans who are turning their backs on China.  Thanks you from other countries are great, though Germany’s refusal to mention Taiwan by name speaks volumes.  The crowdfunded “Taiwan Can Help” campaign and ad in the New York Times (hashtag #taiwancanhelp) certainly raised the ire of the WHO (read: made them butthurt).

Beijing’s incompetence and corruption in the country’s business sector have hurt China.  There are multiple reports of poor quality medical equipment and faulty tests being exported from China and buyers aren’t happy; Spanish doctors have ended up in their own hospitals because of low quality products.  Companies have been so used to exporting low quality on the cheap that they didn’t bother to improve what they produce, or (like the US and UK) quickly changed their manufacturing to new product without the know-how to make it sufficiently good quality.

Despite the economic slowdown elsewhere, it’s not happening here and exports are up. (*)  Computer and cellphone manufacturing (Acer, ASUS, MSI, HTC, etc.) are still doing brisk business with demand from other countries in quarantine needing them.  Even Taiwan’s bicycle manufacturers GIANT and Merida are having trouble meeting demand as cities in Europe and elsewhere shut down roads to cars and allow bicycles.  The cash haul in taxes from all this business has enabled the government increase its originally planned NT$52 billion stimulus to NT$150 billion (US$4.98 billion).

(* A few people I know in the ESL trade have said their schools have reduced hours, but the vast majority are not worried about employment or the number of students in their classes.)

Funny thing I learnt today: While companies in the US and elsewhere are making N95 masks, they were invented by Peter Tsai (蔡秉燚) of Taiwan.  The inventor has come out of retirement to help find ways to sterilize the masks for re-use.