China, the world’s second largest economy, has donated a paltry sum to the Philippines in the wake of a devastating supertyphoon compared to millions provided by a host of other countries, according to reports.
Time reports that China initially donated $100,000 to relief efforts in the aftermath of Supertyphoon Haiyan, which decimated whole communities and killed as many as 10,000 people. By comparison, Britain has pledged $16 million, the Vatican $4 million, Japan $10 million, and New Zealand $1.7 million.
The United States has sent an aircraft carrier, two cruisers, a destroyer, and $20 million in aid to the Philippines.
Time notes that China has recently engaged in territorial disputes with the Philippines:
China’s relations with the Philippines have frayed over the past year, as tensions rise over bits of rocks in the South China Sea that both nations have declared their own. While disputes in the resource-rich waterway have simmered for decades and involve other regional neighbors, China has, in recent months, more assertively staked its maritime claims and last year blocked Filipino fishermen from contested waters.
Users of Chinese social media also appeared to be unmoved by the crisis:
A much weaker Haiyan affected southern China as well, causing much damage and killing eight people. But many users of the Chinese social-media service Weibo were neither moved by the current death toll in the Philippines (it stands at more than 1,800, and officials fear it may eclipse 10,000) nor the complete devastation visited upon many communities. "Our country is also suffering from the same natural disaster, but we still offered help to you [in the Philippines]," wrote one user. "If you do not appreciate our help, give back our money." Another opined, "Since the Philippine government has the budget to purchase American weapons, they should not want for money."
Chinese media reported Thursday that the country will send an additional $1.64 million in supplies to victims in the Philippines, still about one-tenth of what Japan has dispatched.
Several analysts have noted the swiftness of the American response in contrast, such as Phillip Lohaus writing at the American Enterprise Institute Ideas blog:
In an era where it has become fashionable to criticize American engagement with the world, relief efforts such as these should give us pause. We tend to think of military power as a force for destruction, but time and again we see that it’s also a force for relief. Without the global presence of the United States, and in this case the presence of the U.S. Pacific fleet, who would assume the role of first responder?