MANILA (Mabuhay) – Chinese President Xi Jinping is giving an additional $100,000 to the Philippine government to help victims of super typhoon Yolanda.
In a statement from the Chinese Embassy, President Xi extended his condolences to President Aquino.
In his letter of condolences, he said: “I was saddened to learn that super Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ hit the Philippines, and has caused massive casualties and huge property losses.”
“On behalf of the Chinese People, I extend heartfelt sympathies to the Philippine people and profound condolences to the victims. May the Philippine people overcome the disaster and rebuild their homeland at an early date.”
Apart from the $100,000 donation of China Red Cross Society, the Chinese government is donating $100,000 to the Philippine government.
Earlier reports said China may have wasted the chance to build goodwill in Southeast Asia with its relatively paltry donation to the Philippines in the wake of a devastating typhoon, especially with the United States sending an aircraft carrier and Japan ramping up aid.
“The Chinese leadership has missed an opportunity to show its magnanimity,” said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at the City University of Hong Kong who focuses on China’s ties with Southeast Asia.
“While still offering aid to the typhoon victims, it certainly reflects the unsatisfactory state of relations (with Manila).”
China’s ties with the Philippines are already fragile as a decades-old territorial squabble over the South China Sea enters a more contentious chapter, with claimant nations spreading deeper into disputed waters in search of energy supplies, while building up their navies.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the South China Sea, making it one of the region’s biggest flashpoints.
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-nation grouping that includes the Philippines, has been talking to China about a binding code of conduct in South China Sea to ease the friction, but Beijing’s frugal aid hints at a deeply entrenched rivalry that could make forging consensus difficult.
Even China’s state-run Global Times newspaper, known for its nationalistic and often hawkish editorial views, expressed concern about the impact on Beijing’s international standing.
“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 paper said in a commentary.
“China’s international image is of vital importance to its interests. If it snubs Manila this time, China will suffer great losses.” (MNS)