The private foundations of two of China’s wealthiest technology entrepreneurs, Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, have donated 2,000 ventilators to New York state. The donation, which also includes 2.6 million masks and 170,000 goggles, was made possible through an arrangement between the Chinese and US governments and arrived over the weekend.
‘This is a big deal, and it’s going to make a significant difference for us,’ said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo during a recent press briefing. In New York, coronavirus cases have surged at a devastating pace with 123,000 confirmed cases and over 4,000 deaths as of Monday.
Ventilators, a crucial medical tool in the fight against serious cases of the virus, help people continue to breath if their lungs fail. Cuomo has repeatedly asked the US federal government for help acquiring ventilators to fight the pandemic. It was sent 400 ventilators by the US federal government at the end of last month, a small percentage of the 17,000 it had originally requested.
Delivery of the donated medical supplies was made possible by behind-the-scenes negotiations by the donors as well as both governments. All parties had to efficiently overcome a number of regulatory hurdles, underscoring the role of diplomacy in dealing with the global public health crisis.
The Jack Ma Foundation has been very proactive in disbursing funds and medical equipment in the global fight against COVID-19. Since January, it has donated money to vaccine research, millions of masks to nations in every region of the world, hundreds of thousands of testing kits to the US and other countries, and personal protective equipment to hard hit medical systems across Europe. It has also made medical supplies available to every nation in Africa, trying to help the continent launch a proactive, rather than reactive, fight against coronavirus.
Joe and his wife, Clara, Tsai both have strong ties to New York. Joe owns the Brooklyn Nets and Brooklyn’s Barclays Centre arena. Clara runs the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, which oversees causes including economic mobility in Brooklyn.
‘We kept hearing cries for [personal protective equipment] from our community and wanted to help,’ Clara Tsai told CNN in an interview.