Related report: Haiyan survivors desperate for aid
Super Typhoon Haiyan battered the central Philippines, where official estimates of the death toll were more than 10,000. It's reported that the monster typhoon this time is one of the worst in history.
Rescue efforts from around the world are pouring in to help the storm-slammed victims. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs declared Monday that at least 22 countries have pledged to provide aid. The US and Russia reportedly have decided to dispatch military search-and-rescue helicopters and marines to assist survivors.
China shouldn't be absent in the international relief efforts. Instead, it should offer help within the compass of its power, given China's international position and its location of facing the Philippines across the sea. It's a must to aid typhoon victims in the Philippines despite Haiyan having also battered China's coastal regions and bilateral tensions over the South China Sea disputes.
China, as a responsible power, should participate in relief operations to assist a disaster-stricken neighboring country, no matter whether it's friendly or not. China's international image is of vital importance to its interests. If it snubs Manila this time, China will suffer great losses.
We believe Chinese mainstream society supports the central government or relevant organizations to stretch their hands. There are often online outcries concerning China's decisions of offering foreign aid in recent years. But those opposing voices don't represent China's mainstream attitude. Relevant authorities need to directly respond to those voices, leading the society to perceive foreign aid more rationally.
Aid to the typhoon victims is a kind of humanitarian aid, which is totally different from foreign aid in the past made out of geopolitical concerns. Overseas Chinese in the Philippines played an active part to mobilize relief efforts when the mainland was in disaster. It's legitimate that we provide assistance when they suffer.
Besides government agencies, grass-roots charity organizations should be encouraged to offer aid to Manila. A twisted relationship between the two countries caused by maritime disputes is not the reason to block joint efforts to combat natural disaster.
We call for extending disaster-relief assistance to Philippine victims, but it doesn't affect our stand on the South China Sea issue. Chinese society can handle these two different matters.
The Philippine government has persistently refused to apologize for its poor response to the Hong Kong tourist hostage crisis in 2010. The shadow remains until today. But the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government expressed their condolence to Philippine victims after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. The Chinese mainland can also separate bilateral issues from providing important rescue aid to the country.
China and the Philippines have a long history of engagement. Current island disputes are only a brief moment of history. It deserves our serious attention, but shouldn't stop us from doing what is necessary.