Friends, foes see opening in helping virus-hit US
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by Shaun Tandon
The United States has long hailed its aid overseas as a sign of good intentions, but friends and foes alike are seeing opportunities of their own by helping the global power ravaged by the coronavirus.
Turkey, looking to end a rough spell with its NATO ally, and Egypt, whose autocratic leader counts on support from President Donald Trump, both sent military jets full of supplies in the past two weeks, while Taiwan, reliant on Washington for its defense and praised for its effective coronavirus response, has sent millions of masks.
More controversially, China and Russia — considered top global rivals by Washington — have both sent medical goods to the United States, whose COVID-19 death toll is by far the highest in the world at more than 66,000.
Nicholas Cull, a professor at the University of Southern California who studies international reputation, said that gifts were often more about donors’ domestic audiences as leaders try to show that they are “winning the respect and admiration of the world.”
Cull said the most successful gifts come when a nation has no obvious political motivation and appears to be acting out of emotional attachment to another country.
He pointed to the rousing reception in Italy for doctors sent by Albania, one of the poorest nations in Europe.
By contrast, China’s aid has been met by suspicion that Beijing is trying to assert itself or obscure the origins of the respiratory sickness, which was first discovered in the metropolis of Wuhan. (AFP)