mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
China's Disinterest in Helping Philippines Will Have Important Consequences


Even in the aftermath of the devastating tropical storm that smashed the Philippines this week, the ugly geopolitics of Asia’s Game of Thrones—a twenty-first century battle between multiple powers for influence, wealth, and power—rears its head. China, with whom the Philippines has tussled over disputed territory in the South China Sea, has made only a “meager” effort to help the Philippines. At the same time, the US, Great Britain, Japan, and others seem to be trying much harder and sending much more food and equipment and aid.

Of course, no country is the perfect aid donor, but, as Reuters reports, there is a distinct lack of interest on China’s part.

China’s government has promised $100,000 in aid to Manila, along with another $100,000 through the Chinese Red Cross – far less than pledged by other economic heavyweights.

Japan has offered $10 million in aid and is sending in an emergency relief team, for instance, while Australia has donated $9.6 million.

“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 and the Philippines did not get along well in the months leading up to the storm, and on this evidence they are unlikely to get along better afterward. Instead, the Philippines is likely to continue to grow closer to its old nemeses, Japan and the US, and also Australia, which are offering far more help. This could have geopolitical ramifications as the Philippines competes with China for territory in the South China Sea, relying on its friends Japan and the US, both of whom are concerned about China’s increasing belligerence at sea.

Features Icon
show comments
  • tarentius

    The Philippines are their own worst enemy. They have no military and refuse to take the necessary steps to strengthen their military alliance with the United States. Continued Philippines resistance to stationing American troops on Philippine soil because of domestic anti-Americanism, a minority view amongst the Filipino people at large, feckless, incompetent and corrupt politicians will continue to ensure that China treats them with contempt. The long standing affection the American people once had for the Filipino people has faded because of an inept Filipino foreign policy to the point that any American President would have a hard time convincing the American people to defend the Philippines from a Chinese incursion.
    Had American military personnel been stationed at Subic Bay, the Filipino people wouldn’t have had to wait for American military assistance to come all the way from Hong Kong. Instead they rely on an incompetent government. They are their own worst enemy.

  • MFinn

    You do NOT mean “disinterest,” Professor. It is Uninterest or lack of interest.

    • Doddles

      MFinn = pedantic arsehole.

  • Bruce

    Where’d Japan come up with $10 million? They are broker than the U.S. Oh yeah, they came up with it the same place the U.S. is coming up with it. They printed it.

  • Doddles

    A dangerous situation is developing in the region and a war which drags other countries in, whilst not yet inevitable, is certainly brewing. Australia, Britain and the USA need to be very careful indeed. Any historian who understands the multiplicity of causes of the WW1 can read the runes and see something similar developing. The disputed territories, gambles on who will support whom, incursions and border squabbles, imperialism and empire-building, trade protectionism, building up of navies….. It’s all there.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service