TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Grand Hotel Taipei and Taipei 101 on Sunday evening (June 20) both flashed messages thanking the U.S. for its donation of 2.5 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccines that day.
At 4:30 p.m., a shipment of 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived on a China Airlines cargo flight that had departed from Memphis, Tennessee the previous day. Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Brent Christensen were part of a group of officials at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to witness the arrival of the vaccines.
The shipment was more than triple the 750,000 originally pledged by the Biden administration on June 6. It also marks the largest amount of vaccine doses Taiwan has received in a single day, surpassing the 1.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on June 4.
At the airport, Chen and Christensen posed for a photo in front of one of the pallets containing vaccines while holding signs which read, "Thank you. Special thanks to the USA for donating 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan!"
Less than an hour later, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) uploaded a video of the plane's arrival on Twitter and wrote that, "When Taiwan faces tough times, the U.S. always helps out," and that Taiwanese will "keep this moment in their hearts forever."
At 8 p.m. Sunday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) uploaded a photo showing rooms of the Grand Hotel Taipei lit up to display the letters "A" and "T" with a heart in the middle. Wang explained that instead of displaying "AIT," the hotel inserted a heart in the middle because the Mandarin word for "love" (愛) is homophonic with the letter "I." He said the sign could also be interpreted to mean "America loves Taiwan."
Shortly afterward, Taiwan's representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) posted a tweet showing Taipei 101 displaying the words "thank you" and the heart symbol next to "USA." On behalf of the people of Taiwan, Hsiao wrote, "A big THANK YOU" for vaccines. She added that a "friend in need is a friend indeed" and that together, the two countries are "stronger in the global fight against COVID-19."
Brent Christensen and Chen Shih-chung pose in front of vaccine shipment. (CNA photo)
I'm moved by the arrival of the vaccine doses. When #Taiwan faces tough times, the #US always helps out. The donation will save many lives, & is another example of our solid friendship & shared commitment. Taiwan's people will keep this moment in their hearts forever. JW pic.twitter.com/XsQrY3Cvcd— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) (@MOFA_Taiwan) June 20, 2021
Tonight, the Grand Hotel is lit up in AT to celebrate Taiwan-U.S. friendship.— 王定宇 Wang Ting-yu, MP (@MPWangTingyu) June 20, 2021
The de facto U.S. Embassy in Taiwan is called The American Institute in Taiwan or AIT; the pronunciation of the letter "I" is similar to 愛 (which means love).
AT also means America loves Taiwan. pic.twitter.com/NtxawTsvBp
A big THANK YOU from the people of Taiwan to the USA for life-saving vaccines. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Together we are stronger in the global fight against #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/IdgsLHtWk7— Bi-khim Hsiao 蕭美琴 (@bikhim) June 20, 2021