After the Philippines was hit by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, China begrudgingly sent just $100,000 in aid to Manilla, compared to the millions other nations have offered to help the Southeast Asian nation in need.
Last week, Super Typhoon Haiyan tore through central Philippines and killed 10,000 people in the city of Tacloban alone. The tragedy has prompted an outpouring of international assistance. Japan is sending $10 million in aid along with an emergency relief team, while Australia is donating $9.6 million, Reuters reported. The United States is sending $20 million in immediate aid, and an aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, which will carry about 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft to the Philippines to participate in relief efforts along with four other U.S. Navy ships.
China, in sharp contrast, has only promised $100,000 in aid with another $100,000 through the Chinese Red Cross. The world’s second largest economy has been at odds with the Philippines due to territorial disputes in the energy-rich South China Sea. Last year, ships from the two nations were involved in a standoff, and the Philippines later angered China further by taking the issue to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
China has been far more generous in the past, providing over $1 million to the Philippines after a tropical storm hit the Southeast Asian nation in 2011, before ties between the two became increasingly frail, the Voice of America reported.
Last September, the Philippines offered $200,000 to help Chinese victims affected by major earthquakes in southwestern China, which caused the death of 80 and injured more than 800 others, according to the Global Nation, a Filipino news agency.
"The Chinese leadership has missed an opportunity to show its magnanimity," said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at the City University of Hong Kong who focuses on China's ties with Southeast Asia, according to Reuters. "While still offering aid to the typhoon victims, it certainly reflects the unsatisfactory state of relations (with Manila)."
China said that it will consider more aid as disaster relief goes on, but did not offer official reasons for providing less aid than other nations, only mentioning that its own southern provinces were impacted by Typhoon Haiyan as well.
Popular opinion, as grasped from Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform, overwhelmingly opposed the government providing aid to the Philippines.
"For God's sake, give them nothing," wrote one user. "We've given them enough in the past."
"I certainly think that relief and aid for natural disasters should not be affected by political relations. But the Chinese authorities are handicapped by domestic nationalist feelings as well," Cheng said, according to Reuters. "China should have used the opportunity to improve its image."
Sophie is a graduate of Northwestern University. She covers the emerging markets in Southeast Asia, with a particular interest in foreign investment in the region....