DENVER (CBS4) – Taiwan is coming to the aid of the United States during the COVID-19 crisis, and especially Colorado, thanks in large part to Sen. Cory Gardner. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, Colorado’s Republican junior senator has developed relationships with the heads of state in South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, even visited Colorado last summer because of Gardner, a Republican. It was the the first time a sitting president of Taiwan had come here. Now eight months later, that relationship is paying off more than ever.

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President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, and Sen. Cory Gardner

President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, and Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

“I didn’t think that it would come down to a global pandemic and the partnerships that we would we’d rely on in a global pandemic,” Gardner told CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd. “And I’ve got to be honest, Shaun, when found out that we had been able to secure, with the great generosity of Taiwan, two million masks — and we’d have a huge chunk of that coming to Colorado — I cried. Because I have’t been able to sleep at night knowing that so many people are facing the anxieties they face.”

Taiwan is sending 2 million N95 face masks in all to the United States. A total of 1 million masks will go to the federal government and the other million will be divided among the states. Colorado will receive 100,000 or 10% of the masks designated for states.

(credit: CBS)

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Gardner helped pass a bill that, among other things, supports Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization, which China opposes. President Donald Trump signed it into law last week.

“They’re a global leader in the response, donating millions of masks to the United States. Tens of thousands will be in Colorado as result. They should be part of the global health care discussions,” he said.

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Gardner says he’s also working with other Asian countries as well as companies here and abroad to secure more resources for Colorado.

“We’ve been working with about 150 identified suppliers in Vietnam who could potentially provide relief, on ventilators, to Colorado. South Koreans have been incredible partners in freeing up tests for Colorado. They are on their way to Colorado now. This could potentially be a significant, significant help to our state.”

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Gardner says the masks should arrive in Colorado by next week.

Shaun Boyd