China’s paltry aid for the Philippines

by Chris Zappone

China so far has offered $100,000 in post-typhoon aid for the Philippines (plus another $100,000 through China’s Red Cross), far less than the $20 million from the US, $10 million from Japan and Australia each with those countries also sending rescue crews and air support. Even global bank HSBC is offering $1 million.

China’s stinginess is of course related to the ongoing dispute with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal, which Manila has sent on to a UN maritime tribunal.

Reuters points out that lots of popular opinion in China is against offering aid:

Comments on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, overwhelmingly opposed China giving aid to the Philippines. “For God’s sake, give them nothing,” wrote one user. “We’ve given them enough in the past.”

Beijing’s behavior hasn’t gone unnoticed by the international community. And its fairly heartless response (clashing with notions of China the powerful and prosperous) puts China’s schoolyard pettiness on display. The undiplomatic attitude is not limited to China’s neighbors, either.

China is still upset at Norway over the Nobel Prize being awarded to Liu Xiaobo. Britain has only recently exited the Chinese doghouse, too, after PM David Cameron dared meet with the Dalai Lama.

It’s for this reason the Daily Telegraph’s Iain Martin opines:

This latest ethical and practical failure of leadership by China is another illustration of the way in which the country is struggling with its responsibilities as a growing global power. We must hope the situation improves as its economic power grows, and it might. Perhaps the Chinese elite will come to wear its power lightly and modestly; or perhaps not. In the interim, the governments of Western countries should avoid getting too starry eyed about China. Although the UK government should be trying to improve trade with the country, ministers should not be demeaning themselves, behaving like travelling salesmen and pushing deals at any cost. A little scepticism and realism about the limits of China’s modern miracle wouldn’t go amiss.