In the wake of the destruction of Typhoon Haiyan, which is referred to locally in the Philippines as Yolanda and has killed at least 10,000 people, many nations and aid groups have come forward to offer relief and words of hope. Among them was the Chinese government, which, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, has donated $200,000 to relief efforts.
Relations between the island nation and the economic superpower have been icy as a result of an ongoing territorial dispute over a cluster of islands located in the South China Sea. As China wages several territorial disputes with its neighbors, tensions mounting over the Scarborough Shoal, known to the Chinese as Huangyan Island, culminated in a series of protests and xenophobic posturing from both sides. In July, protests in the Philippines erupted against the Chinese claims to the territory, prompting Chinese visa offices in Manila to close for fear of their staffs' safety.
However, following the Philippines’ most recent tragedy, many Chinese put politics to rest for a moment to pay respects to the several thousand people who lost their lives, and the many more who lost loved ones or their homes.
“May the dead rest in peace,” several bloggers posted on popular social media blogging site, Weibo, in response to a series of photos from the hard-hit area of Tacloban. “We hereby show our greatest sympathy to the Philippines for the natural disaster they have suffered,” a poster on Sohu.com, another blogging service, wrote. “We will promote the humanitarian spirit: organize the Filipinos in China to raise money, and then donate it to the Philippines in the name of China!” According to Chinese media blog China Smack, the post was shared more 5,000 times.
Still, other responses to the wreckage in the Philippines were much more nationalistic, with some still staunchly standing by their claims over the disputed island.
“What people are doing, God is watching. They have committed to many wicked deeds, and God can tolerate it no longer…. I hope [the government] won’t take our taxpayers’ money and donate it those Philippine dogs.”
“The earthquake in Japan, the typhoon in the Philippines. It’s good that they have happened, and happened at the right times,” another blogger posted, referring to Japan’s devastating tsunami and earthquake in 2011, which occurred during one of the escalations between China and its eastern neighbor over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.