China Increases Typhoon Aid to $1.64 Million Amid Criticism

China will donate 10 million yuan ($1.64 million) in relief materials to help the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan, the official Xinhua News Agency said, after the government earlier offered $100,000.

The relief goods will include blankets and tents, the agency said in a story that also mentioned that hundreds of tons of aid are “standing idly” because they can’t be delivered to the victims of the storm.

The announcement of new aid comes after state-run media including the Global Times criticized the government’s decision to donate so little money. China and the Philippines are locked in a territorial dispute, a fact that may have clouded the government’s decision, said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Singapore-based Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

“China is talking the talk on being a responsible great power and playing a bigger role on the world stage and helping out its Asian neighbors,” Storey said by phone. “But then when it comes down to it not really walking the walk.”

The initial donation of $100,000 from China, the world’s second-largest economy, compares with an offer of $20 million from the U.S. and $10 million from Japan, the world’s first and third-largest economies. The U.S. diverted an aircraft carrier to assist with relief efforts, while Japan is also sending 1,000 Self-Defense Force troops. The Chinese Red Cross also donated $100,000.

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on Nov. 8 and has killed at least 2,357 people, according to the Philippine government. The storm wiped out much of the southern city of Tacloban, from where survivors have sought to flee and resorted to looting amid a growing humanitarian crisis.

“China, as a responsible power, should participate in relief operations to assist a disaster-stricken neighboring country, no matter whether it’s friendly or not,” the Global Times said in a Nov. 12 editorial. “China’s international image is of vital importance to its interests.”

Asked about the aid donation at a briefing today, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang reiterated that China’s assistance would depend on the “development of the disaster” and adjustments would be made.

“China is a nation with compassion, a nation that loves peace, a nation that loves to do philanthropic work,” Qin said. “I believe most Chinese people are sympathetic to the Philippines’ situation.”

— With assistance by Nick Wadhams

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