China Accused of Cheapness over Aid to Typhoon-Afflicted Philippines

by GLapierre on November 15, 2013 - 11:59pm

The article China's Philippine aid controversy, published by the BBC on November 14th, 2013, puts in light the controversial situation that arose following China’s initial announcement that it would give (only) $100,000 in aid to the Philippine victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Following an international outcry, Beijing later added an extra $100,000 to the balance via the Chinese Red Cross, before finally upping his bid to $1.6 million. Yet the spark was lit and there to stay.

One thing is sure: with an estimated typhoon-caused minimal death toll of 2,500, 236,000 houses destroyed, the major part of the country lacking electricity, and so on, the Philippines are in urging needs of international aid (food, healthcare, shelters, etc.) – more than ever (USA Today). And to many, China’s initial pledge was far from enough.

Obviously, Beijing’s offer paled compared to those of other nations: $28 million from Australia, $20 million from the U.S… One could even ask if New Zeland wanted to humiliate one of the world’s greatest powers by sending $1.7 million, surpassing by a hundred thousand dollars what had been promised by China. South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na alone gave $100,000 (Bloomberg)!

As a cause for this fiasco, many pointed to the territorial dispute the Philippines and China are having over islands located in the South China Sea. In fact, national media recently put tremendous efforts in awakening and guiding popular hostility towards the Philippines. This could explain the relative indifference of the Chinese population when it is asked about the situation ("It doesn't matter how much the donation is, it's the thought that counts", said one woman when interviewed for the purpose of the article).

While her thoughts are perfectly true, and, to some extent, justifiable, I’d say that this whole situation brings out the question of international aid to (under-developed/developing) countries in times of catastrophe… At large, it could raise the question of international aid to developing countries, period – as a whole! And far as I am concerned, since this is clearly a case of politics taking a toll on social solidarity, I would probably argue, as a man interviewed in the article did, that “politics and charity are two separate things” – at least, they should be.

“Personally I don't like the Philippines; we don't have a good relationship with them. But it's not about our relationship with the government; we only need to help the people", said another. And I totally agree with both (apart from the Philippines-hating part, obviously)! I find it ridiculous how a nation that aspires to become the world’s greatest power can ignore/mistreat its fellows. Like them or not, the United States have done great things over the course of their “reign” (even if they did bad ones as well) – and they, once again, continue to prove so, with their $20 million cheque in aid.

It’s a pity that likely no one will firmly condemn Beijing, for that no one wants to be in bad terms with the world’s giant. Likewise, I don’t see a lot of solutions for this situation. Maybe that, in the style of what the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank do, the U.N. could require a monetary contribution for international aid/development, proportionately to the countries’ population size or GDP, in order to grant them membership and/or voting right…?

Until then, with much of the American debt being owed by Beijing, the Philippines can comfort themselves by thinking that this $20 million aid cheque from the United States comes, in fact… from China (Bloomberg).

 

Source article (BBC News): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24938874.

Additional information and statistics taken from Bloomberg (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-14/cheapskate-china-wins-no-friends-in-philippines.html) and USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/11/14/china-typhoon-haiyan-aid/3529729/).

Comments

These problems have arisen through out history. People make excuses why they can not help as much as they could. People and countries as a whole should not be fighting and trying to gain land. Each one should be trying to help one another. Charity is the way of creating a better world. THis was present when the people who were affected by the storm Katrina. These people's lives were destroyed so people came together and helped. This is also present in Africa. There are so many bad things going on with Africa that have not been looked at. These include lack of clean water, malnutrition, and much more. This is a great point you wrote about. It is understanding and continues to be everyday.

Though I do not watch the news that often, I have been increasingly aware of this disaster as the death toll rises. But, I had not heard that China had initially only offered $100,000 in aid. To me, that seems insane, though I do not know the situation of the conflict between China and the Philippines regarding the islands in South China Sea. I find it very interesting how a Chinese woman said “It’s the thought that counts.” It really isn’t the thought that counts in my opinion. I have done research on Hurricane Katrina and I have met people at my university that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Because of this experience, I can say that you need a little more than thought to repair destroyed homes and cushion the financial burden that comes with lost loved ones. I would like to respond to your allegation that nobody will likely condemn Beijing. Even with people like you writing blog posts condemning them I feel like this is enough of a voice to be heard. Media can go a long way.

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