Matt Taylor works for Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture at the Taipei Representative Office in the UK. He lived in Taiwan for several years a few years ago, and has an MA in Taiwan Studies from SOAS, University of London.
Matt kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us.
- His answers are in no way to be taken as an official statement on behalf of his employer.
Have the recent clampdowns on movement affected you personally?
Working in London, a large percentage of the population rely heavily on public transport, which means that taking the underground has been a big source of anxiety. Going to work earlier or later didn’t seem to reduce the number of people in a carriage, and the reduction of services just made everything busier.
Thankfully because I cycle I can avoid public transport entirely. Although because my home is quite far away from work I’d rather not do it in an ideal world, the payoff seems worthwhile currently.
Elsewhere to experience an unprecedented closing off of the world around you feels surreal; suddenly you realise that the only places you can go are your office and the supermarket. Re-adjusting to the new normal is strange, but necessary.
What particular annoyances have you felt?
The way that a minority of the British public has reacted to this crisis has been a source of disappointment.
To see queues of people outside supermarkets panic buying toilet paper to happily driving off from cities to pack out rural areas despite strong advice to practice social distancing and remain indoors where possible, it feels as if there is a disregard for personal responsibility completely separate to what Brits like to think of as a collective Blitz spirit.
Has Taiwan done a good job in its handling of the COVID 19 issue?
It’s irrefutable that Taiwan has set the gold standard for combatting and repressing COVID 19 and it is Taiwan – not China – that the world’s democracies should look to emulate in order to most effectively handle this crisis.
Through the skillful employment of technology, thorough testing, government transparency and an excellent health care system, Taiwan is an example for the world that the virus can be controlled.
We can only hope that after this global pandemic is over, the world realizes that it cannot continue to kowtow to China’s unfounded geopolitical beliefs, and that Taiwan cannot be excluded from any fight posing a threat to humanity, from global health to climate change.
What could Taiwan do better?
I think we need to pay close attention to the impact of those returning from overseas and ensuring that they follow Taiwan’s strict yet very fair guidelines in order to stop a potential second wave of cases.
How are you spending your time of late? – living as normal a life as possible or on edge because of the virus?
Anxiety during these days is very real, especially when nothing seems within your control. I have definitely come to appreciate the importance of self-care, and the positive impact that can have on mental health.
Switching off the news and turning off your phone to play a video game or exercising to some happy music can really make such a difference to your mood, and makes the world seem less bleak.
There are 24 hours in a day; make sure to use some of them to focus on your wellbeing.