A backlash of harsh criticisms over its “insultingly small change” donation to victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan) has prompted the Chinese government to step up aid to the storm ravaged province of Leyte and nearby cities.
China also decided to provide an additional 10 million Yuan ($1.6 million) for relief efforts in the form of blankets, tents and other materials after the United States, Australia and other foreign donors poured in more funds for relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Beijing and Manila are embroiled in a long-standing row over islands in the strategically vital West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Manila had accused China of asserting its claims increasingly aggressively after it occupied the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).
China, the world’s second-largest economy, announced a $100,000 cash donation on Monday, with a matching one from the Chinese Red Cross, far less than other countries.
The US magazine Time carried a report Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) 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,” the article said.
For its part, the US said that relief channels were belatedly opening up to the typhoon-ravaged cities in the Central Visayas as President Barack Obama urged Americans to dig deep and other countries upped their aid.
Transport planes, helicopters, ships and medics are in operation or coming from an array of countries in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, with Australia increasing its aid contribution to Aus$30 million (US$28 million), or roughly P1.2 billion, and deploying extra defense staff to help deal with the disaster.
One US official said relief workers were now better able to distribute aid out of Tacloban airport, and that the opening of a land route had given a significant boost by connecting to a sea port.
The initial effort was “a lot like trying to squeeze an orange through a straw,” the official told reporters on a conference call.
“We are now getting more straws, if you will, and bigger straws.”
According to a statement from the Australian Embassy in Manila, the additional funds will be used to address “serious nutrition, child health and protection needs, purchase emergency foods and provide logistic support and non-food items.”
“Providing safe drinking water and power is now critical,” Abbott said. “The Australian [Defense] Force is preparing to provide water purification systems and power generators to Tacloban over the coming days.”
Likewise, the Singapore embassy in Manila announced on Thursday that its armed forces will send an additional $120,000 worth of relief supplies to the Philippines.
Bernice Camille V. Bauzon With a report from AFP