Virus? What Virus? Taiwan's achievement in keeping Covid at bay, is fuelling a real growing economic boom. As the coronavirus has upended lives and economies around the world, Taiwan has been an oasis.

Every day, restaurants, bars and cafes are packed. Office buildings hum, and school resounds with the shrieks and laughter of maskless children.

In October, a Pride parade drew an estimated 130,000 people to the streets of Yaipei, the capital. Rainbow masks were abundant, social distancing, not so much.

The island of 24 million, which has 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 loy 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 this fall.

'' Now, some of those once-in-a-month guests have moved back.''

These Covid migrants are largely overseas Taimanese and dual nationals. They have included businesspeople, students, retirees and weel known figures like Eddie Huang, the Taiwanese-American restaurateur and author.

About 270,000 more Taiwanese entered the island than left it in 2020, according to the immigarion authorities - about four times the net inflow of the previous year.

Taiwan's borders have been mostly closed to foreign visitors since last spring. But highly skilled non-Taiwanese have been allowed in under a ''gold card'' employment program, which the government has aggressively promoted during the pandemic.

Since Jan 31 of last year, more than 1,600 gold cards have been issued , more than four times as many as in 2019.

The influx of people helped make Taiwan one of the last year's fastest-growing economies - indeed, one of the few to expand at all. There was a brief slowdown at the start of the pandemic, but the economy grew more than 5% in the fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2019.

The government expects 4.6 percent growth in 2021, which would be the fastest pace in seven years.

The World Students Society thanks Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien.


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