SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Thousands of donated medical supplies arrived in Utah earlier this month from Liaoning, China, a province that has sustained a friendly relationship with the State of Utah for the last 14 years.

Dr. Taowen Le is the Chairman of the Utah Chinese Civic Center, a non-profit Chinese organization in Utah and was part of the team that helped build a bridge between the Utah State Legislature and Liaoning Province more than a decade ago. The province lies on the northeast coast of China and borders North Korea.

Le said he learned about the shortages in protective materials such as masks and gowns through the Chinese community in Utah and contacted the Chinese Embassy in the US about the state’s needs. Since then, members of the International Relations and Trade Committee had been working to obtain personal protective equipment from Liaoning Province.

“As a Utah resident of nearly 36 years, I felt saddened. My heart reached out to our fellow Utahns,” said Le. “In the meanwhile, Liaoning Province of China was mindful of Utah, as both Utah and Liaoning enjoyed a strong legislative relationship for 14 years. Therefore, upon learning about Utah’s needs from the embassy, Liaoning responded positively and immediately.”

Both sides signed an official agreement of friendly exchange and cooperation in February 2006 after the first delegation from Utah visited a month prior. During the 2016 legislative session, a joint resolution was passed and signed by Gov. Herbert recognizing and showing appreciation towards the state’s ten-year relationship with Liaoning, China.

Perhaps the most recent exchange between the two sides before this donation was S.C.R. 8, a joint resolution passed by the Utah State Legislature during the 2020 session to support the Chinese people regarding the Coronavirus outbreak.

“That singular gesture of support was very deeply appreciated by China and its people,” said Le.

The resolution passed both the House and Senate on March 12, but Governor Herbert ultimately declined to sign it on April 1st.

As xenophobic behavior and rhetoric began to increase against Asian Americans during the pandemic, Le said he felt saddened and called this type of perspective ‘destructive’ to social harmony and counter-productive to join efforts against the virus.

“COVID-19 is a common enemy of the human family. The need for the entire humanity to join efforts in the battle against it is stronger than ever. The donation from Liaoning Province is not only an expression of friendship, but also an act of partnership against a common enemy,” he said.

The donations that arrived to the Salt Palace on April 17th included 7000 protective gowns, 7000 N95 masks, 3000 children’s masks, and 70,000 medical masks.

“I do not know where they were distributed. But I am confident they would be used where the need was the strongest,” said Le.