By Alexandra Hoegberg in Hong Kong
On Thursday morning, QQ’s news site published a rather lengthy article addressing the criticism China has received from the international community for its meager donations to the disaster-struck Philippines. The article ended with a poll, asking the simple question “Do you think China should aid the Philippines?” Within roughly 24 hours, over 160,000 persons had cast their vote: An overwhelming 84% of them said that they do not support aid to the Philippines.
Thousands have perished and hundreds of thousands are displaced in the Philippines in the wake of typhoon Haiyan. The official confirmed death toll on Thursday was 2,357, Reuters reported, though it is believed that many more – as many as 10,000 people – may have lost their lives.
China was shamed after its original donation of only US$200,000 USD (roughly 1.2 million yuan) were offered by the Chinese Red Cross and the government together, though another 10 million yuan worth of relief-supplies such as tents and blankets were later added, Xinhua reported on Wednesday. This compares to, for example, the USD 10 million (60.9 million yuan) promised by Japan, another regional neighbor.
But despite the international reaction to China’s donation, if QQ’s pollsters are to be believed, the Chinese themselves would rather not send any aid at all.
“How much aid China should give to the Philippines is none of other countries’ concern. This is China’s own business. If you look at the international relation between China and the Philippines, we should not aid them. The Philippines is not such a good thing,“ one QQ user commented on the article.
Another user argued that the Philippines is “ungrateful” of donations, and warned: ”just wait until they regain their strength, then they’ll start to fight you”.
“The Philippines is ungrateful, let them fend for themselves!” another comment read.
One of the pollsters supporting aid to the Philippines called for China to be the “bigger person”, and commented: “Based on humanitarianism we must aid, based on a greater attitude we must aid.”
The relation between China and the Philippines has been strained by territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The Philippines is also at odds with both Hong Kong and Taiwan over other issues. Taiwan-Philippines relations went sour in May when Filipino coast guards shot a Taiwanese fisherman in disputed waters, which caused Taiwan to impose economic sanctions against the Philippines that weren’t lifted until three months later. Only earlier in November, Hong Kong warned that it would impose sanctions against the Philippines if the latter didn’t take steps to formally apologize for a 2010 hostage situation in Manila, where eight Hong Kong tourists were shot. (This one-month deadline, by the way, hasn’t been lifted despite the current crisis.)
Alexandra Hoegberg is a Hong Kong-based journalist and sinologist currently interning for Reuters. Follow her on Twitter at @AlexHoegberg.