Typhoon Haiyan: What’s a Superpower to Do?

The U.S. dispatches a flotilla of aid, while China barely lifts a finger to help its neighbor

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Josh Diddams / U.S. Marines

U.S. Marines arrive in the Philippines to help with typhoon relief

Washington is 8,600 miles (13,840 km) from the Philippines. Beijing is 1,800 miles (2,900 km) away. Yet while American aid is flowing across the Pacific to the hard-hit archipelago, where thousands have died, Chinese help is barely trickling across the South China Sea in the wake of last weekend’s typhoon.

More than 250 Marines are on the ground in the Philippines, supported by five C-130 cargo planes and four V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft, with more aircraft on their way. The leathernecks have already delivered more than 50 tons of water, food and medicine. The carrier U.S.S. George Washington is slated to arrive off the Philippines’ coast on Wednesday from a port call in Hong Kong, with an air wing of more than 80 aircraft, including 11 helicopters, and the ability to produce 400,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of fresh water daily. U.S. emergency shelters are coming from Dubai. Also steaming toward the ravaged nation are the cruisers U.S.S. Antietam and U.S.S. Cowpens, the destroyers U.S.S. Lassen, U.S.S. McCampbell and U.S.S. Mustin, plus the supply ship U.S.N.S. Charles Drew.

Meanwhile, China has pledged $100,000 (plus another $100,000 from the Chinese Red Cross).

Is that any way for a wannabe superpower to act?

The U.S. is the world’s largest economy, with an annual gross domestic product of $16 trillion. That’s double the size of China’s official GDP figure, but actually only 25% bigger when adjusted for purchasing parity. In fact, according to a March report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, China will eclipse the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy in 2016.

China’s stinginess (in comparison, the U.S., beyond its military moves, has donated $20 million, with Japan and Australia giving about $10 million apiece) highlights what it means to be a superpower in an interconnected world. Even the official Chinese press is beginning to weigh in on the yuan-pinching ways of the Middle Kingdom.

“China shouldn’t be absent in the international relief efforts. Instead, it should offer help within the compass of its power, given China’s international position and its location of facing the Philippines across the sea,” said a Tuesday editorial in the People’s Daily, an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. “China’s international image is of vital importance to its interests. If it snubs Manila this time, China will suffer great losses.”

China has been engaged in a territorial dispute for decades with the Philippines over the South China Sea that separates them (it also has such issues with Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam). The China-Philippine squabble has become increasingly tense amid bulked-up navies and the hunt for underwater energy sources.

That no doubt accounts for some of Beijing’s lackluster response.
It doesn’t take long for news of such meager action to spread around the globe. “Fundraising drives are under way, and about two dozen countries have announced relief efforts — though the efforts planned by some, such as China’s pledge of $100,000, seem grossly inadequate,” a Washington Post editorial noted on Tuesday.
The message apparently is seeping into the Chinese consciousness. Qin Gang, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said Beijing might give more. “China has also suffered from the disaster,” he said, “so we very much understand and sympathize with the current hardships that the Philippine people are facing.” Chinese media reported seven people in southern China had been killed by the weakened storm. (Philippine President Benigno Aquino III scaled back the estimated death toll in his country from an initial 10,000 to 2,500 on Tuesday.)

Meanwhile, resurrecting a U.S. military presence in the Philippines — Manila kicked out U.S. troops more than 20 years ago — is a subject of negotiations between the Philippines and Washington. It’s all part of the U.S. military’s “pivot” to Asia, which has captured Beijing’s attention.

“We are in discussions with the government of the Philippines right now on greater access for U.S. forces,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Tuesday. “The goal is not to have new permanent bases for the U.S. military, but it’s to enable rotational presences so that we can work together with allies and partners in the region to address problems like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The goal in this region and elsewhere is to help build partner capacity. That’s in our interest, and it’s in other countries’ interests as well.”

Well, except maybe for China’s.

11 comments
HenryWinn
HenryWinn

A wake-up call to some regional Asian nations who think appeasement, subordination, kowtow... to China will work for you. This is typical of Chinese mentality, refined over 5,000 years of sophisticated culture and superior history and de facto supreme leader of Asia. Is the Philippines declared enemy of China? No! Did the Philippines commit atrocities against China? No! The only " mistakes " made by the Philippines were being smaller and weaker than the Middle Kingdom China ( what country that is not? ), yet dares to challenge China for internationally based justice, making China " loses face "... In fact, China also views any Asian nation giving more aid than the Chinese US$ 100,000 pledge  as " traitor ". So, behave accordingly!

jovaniwayne
jovaniwayne

In times like this, you will set aside any barriers and help your fellow man, that's what being a human is. that is, if you're human enough to set aside your personal interests, or your country's personal interest and just help what ever ways you can. And no matter how small or big the offered help is, we'll accept it and say, thank you, 

im4udevco
im4udevco

Well, no matter what happens, we [USA] care and help those in dire need. For all the talks about where the USA has been, from the middle east, to Africa and everywhere, most aids would be non-existential without the USA. Look at the facts - who is the largest contributor in the UN .........you guessed it - the USA. Here are the facts http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL30605.pdf


by78
by78

The article omits one crucial fact: Chinese money pays for the U.S. Navy and whatever aid we 'offer' to the Philippines.  You seriously cannot expect China to pay 'double', as it were.



drudown
drudown

Uh, maybe our LAZY, CORRUPT GOP CONGRESS should stop "vacationing" in between unlawful use of the Filibuster and RAISE REVENUE as Article I, Section 8 requires.

What, the US is immune from such Natural Disasters?

Well, only according to the "Climate Change is a hoax GOP" bribed by the market players.

This inaction by Congress is reckless and lawless.

The Filibuster is Despotic. 

A SINGLE SENATOR CANNOT THWART DEMOCRACY ON THE MERITS WITHOUT VIOLATING DUE PROCESS OF LAW.

As such, NO MORE inaction on ABOLISHING the Filibuster IMMEDIATELY (i.e., BEFORE THE BUDGET CRISIS). IT IS IMPERATIVE.

Get it done.

"Thy love afar is spite at home." - Emerson

tkulaga
tkulaga

Question. Do we help Cuba when disaster strikes?

Truth_Seeker
Truth_Seeker

Have y0u ever wondered what the TRUTH is about life and death?  If you seek, you will find.  Go to TruthContest'  com and open "The Present" today. ...

tube6l6
tube6l6

@by78  That's a loan, numskull, with interest.  Mercantilist self-serving China has no other place to park the money (doubt you'd understand the concepts here though)

DHoffman
DHoffman

Uh, yes.. As a matter of fact, according to HumanRights.gove, the US is one of the leading providers of humanitarian aide to Cuba. We help everyone it seems except our own (Bengahzi comes to mind). My son is serving on the USS George Washington. They were in port in Hong Kong when they received orders to report to the Philippines. If we can make it there in a couple of days from HONG KONG, then so can the Chinese. And whether or not the money we are donating to the cause comes from China or not (God knows our deficit is no laughing matter and the money very well could be sent to China to pay on our bill) we choose to go further in debt to provide humanitarian aide to anyone, and I mean anyone, who needs it. We always have and we always will because that is who we are.

marco_shawn
marco_shawn

@Truth_Seeker are you sure the SO-CALLED human right thing is really a help? not some kind of  destruction?  Where does these money go? Common people? Kidding me?