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November 14, 2013

China Increases Typhoon Aid to Philippines

by VOA News

China is increasing the amount of its relief aid to the typhoon-hit Philippines, days after it offered an initial donation much smaller than that of other global powers.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday that Beijing would send $1.6 million in additional aid to the Philippines.

"Several days ago we also decided to send 10 million RMB ($1.64 million) worth of humanitarian aid, including tents and blankets, to the Philippine people in the disaster zone. These include thousands of tents and hundreds of thousands of blankets," she said.

Earlier this week, the Beijing government, along with the Chinese Red Cross, pledged $200,000 in aid to the Philippines, which is struggling to deal with the aftermath of one of its worst natural disasters in decades.

​​That figure was significantly less than the aid offered by other nations. By comparison, Japan has offered $10 million in aid. Australia has donated $9.6 million. The United States, meanwhile, has given $20 million and its military is helping lead a massive relief effort.

Earlier this week, China's foreign ministry refused to say whether its aid packages were being influenced by Beijing's worsening territorial dispute with the Philippines.

The Philippines has accused China of using its rising military power to aggressively defend disputed areas in the energy-rich South China Sea. Last year, Chinese and Philippine ships were involved in a weeks-long standoff at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited archipelago.

An article in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times on Tuesday said the dispute should have nothing to do with China's decision to send relief aid to the Philippines. The paper said China's global image is of "vital importance" and warned of "great losses" if Beijing snubs Manila.

Thousands of people are feared dead after Typhoon Haiyan swept across the central Philippines late last week. The storm later moved to southern China, where it killed at least seven people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.