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US senator criticizes China response to typhoon

November 19, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — China’s modest aid to the Philippines after the typhoon there shows its politics has influenced its response to the humanitarian disaster, a prominent Republican senator said Tuesday.

Sen. Marco Rubio said China’s $1.6 million offer dwarfs what it could provide, and reflects a foreign policy in which China wants to help only countries that do its bidding.

Rubio, who is considered a possible U.S. presidential contender, said China’s territorial disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea explained its “limited” response.

“You’ve seen the result now when you have a humanitarian crisis. The Chinese have been less willing to respond,” Rubio said at hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the aid effort for the millions of victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

“Compare that to the United States which consistently has been willing to put aside whatever political differences we may have when a humanitarian crisis strikes,” citing disasters in recent years in Pakistan and Haiti.

Rubio said the U.S. deployment of military assets and provision of $37 million in aid demonstrated the importance of the U.S. staying internationally engaged.

Senior State Department official Scot Marciel declined to comment on the Chinese response. But he said the U.S. aid effort has reinforced in the minds of Filipinos that the U.S. is “a long-time and good partner that they can depend on,” and demonstrated to the wider region the “unmatched” logistical capabilities of the U.S. military.

“I think that’s gone widely noticed,” Marciel told the hearing.

At the weekend, China said it was monitoring conditions in the Philippines, and was ready to send rescue and medical teams “should conditions permit.” It was unclear whether the Philippine government had accepted the offer.

Views expressed on the Chinese Internet have argued strongly against aiding the Philippines, despite the potential damage to China’s hopes of being regarded as a responsible regional and possibly global leader.

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