How The Typhoon In The Philippines Could Be A Diplomatic Teaching Moment

Nov 15, 2013

Marines and U.S. Army Soldiers load supplies onto an MV-22 Osprey assigned to assist the Philippine government in response to the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan - November 14, 2013.
Credit Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman / U.S. Navy

Thousands have died, and millions more have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan’s landfall in the Philippines earlier this month, and significant aid has poured in from the United States, Australia and Japan.

But paltry support for the Philippines from its neighbor China could negatively affect that country’s image on the diplomatic stage.

“It's a measly amount given what it could do," says Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the host of KGOU’s World Views. "There are disputes with the Philippines and others in the region over access to the South China Sea. The comments [are] coming [in] from the Chinese public – ‘Don’t help them, they’re not on our side. They’re not one of us, we don’t owe them anything.’”

Joshua Landis, the Director of OU’s Center for Middle East Studies, says natural disaster can be a chance to step forward and mend fences.

“We saw Turkey and Greece make up in 1999 when Turkey had a major earthquake,” Landis says. “Greece stepped forward and offered help, and it turned the relationship that had been acrimonious for 100  years into a much better relationship.”

But Landis also says China could see this disaster as an opportunity to help friends and punish enemies.

“China counts,” Landis says. “If you want to be on China’s side, you’ve got to be nice to China."


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