China to raise aid to Philippines amid controversy

2013-11-14 16:40
Air-force personnel manages relief goods inside a Hercules plane. (Adek Berry, AFP)

Air-force personnel manages relief goods inside a Hercules plane. (Adek Berry, AFP)

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Beijing - China said on Thursday it would increase its aid to the typhoon-pummelled Philippines, after criticism of its initial modest response, but some Chinese web users called for no help at all.

The two countries are embroiled in a longstanding row over islands in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety.

Manila accuses Beijing of asserting its claims increasingly aggressively and says Chinese vessels have occupied the Scarborough Shoal, which it claims itself, since last year.

China announced a $100 000 cash donation on Monday, with a matching one from the Chinese Red Cross, far less than other countries and a move that prompted criticism overseas.

The US magazine, Time, carried a report on Wednesday under the headline "The world's second largest economy off-loads insultingly small change on a storm-battered Philippines".

"The Chinese government has been made to look mean-spirited in front of the world community," said the article.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said on Thursday that the country decided "just days ago" to provide an additional $1.6m for relief efforts in the form of blankets, tents and other materials.


"There will be thousands of tents and tens of thousands of blankets," he told reporters at a regular briefing.

"We hope that these supplies will be delivered to the disaster-stricken areas as soon as possible to show our sympathies with the Philippines."

Chinese media and internet users, many of whom are intensely nationalistic, were divided on how the country should respond to the disaster.

"If [the Chinese government] was generous to the Philippines, it would hurt the Chinese people completely," wrote a user with the online handle Old Beijing on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Another user said: "I think what China has done was rational, facts have long showed the wickedness of the Philippine regime. It will not be grateful even if we hand them much money. Instead, it could use the cash to buy weapons from the US to attack us."

Others argued that China was also a victim of the storm and had its own disaster relief needs at home.

The typhoon brushed three provinces and regions in south China this week, leaving at least 13 dead or missing and 252 000 people displaced, according to the latest official data.

Nevertheless, some commentators warned that it was not in China's best interests to minimise its humanitarian aid to the Philippines.
Read more on:    philippines  |  china  |  typhoon haiyan  |  social networks  |  natural disasters

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