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China to Send 'Peace Ark' to Help Typhoon-hit Philippines

  • VOA News

FILE - Chinese navy hospital-ship "Peace Ark" passes by the lighthouse of the colonial fortress Morro Cabana as it enters Havana Harbor.

FILE - Chinese navy hospital-ship "Peace Ark" passes by the lighthouse of the colonial fortress Morro Cabana as it enters Havana Harbor.

China is increasing its relief aid to the Philippines, following criticism that it was not doing enough to help its typhoon-hit neighbor. The two countries are currently involved in a territorial dispute.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Wednesday an emergency medical team from the government and a disaster relief team from the Chinese Red Cross will soon arrive in the Philippines. A 14,000-ton navy hospital ship, the "Peace Ark," will also be sent.

It has been 12 days since Typhoon Haiyan tore through the central Philippines, leaving over 4,000 people dead and millions displaced. Hundreds of thousands are yet to be reached by emergency aid.

China, which has the world's second largest economy, initially offered $100,000 to Manila. Following both domestic and international criticism, it increased its aid contribution by $1.6 million in supplies.

Wu Zhengping, with the Chinese embassy in Manila, said some of that aid has already arrived.

"This batch of relief goods includes tents and blankets. We have already given this aid to the Philippine Department of Social Welfare. The Philippine Department of Social Welfare regional head expressed that our Chinese relief goods are very useful for the Philippine disaster areas," siad Zhengping.

However, the amount of Chinese aid given is still small compared to other international donations. Japan, for example, has given $30 million to Manila. Even some private companies have given more, including Swedish furniture company Ikea, whose charitable foundation provided $2.7 million.

The U.S., meanwhile, has given over $37 million in humanitarian assistance and has sent an aircraft carrier, along with dozens of other ships, planes and helicopters to help lead the relief effort.

China-Philippines relations have been strained over a worsening dispute over territory in the South China Sea, which the Philippines refers to as the West Philippine Sea.

Manila accuses Beijing of using intimidation and force to defend its claims in the sea, where several small-scale standoffs and skirmishes have broken out in recent years.
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