Typhoon Haiyan: The aftermath

Picture: Flickr
Picture: Flickr

A deadly category five typhoon hit the Philippines in Southeast Asia on 7 November and has left a trail of destruction in it’s wake.

Typhoon Haiyan is one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on land.

The final death tolls are said to be between 2,000 and 2,500.

Although this represents considerably less fatalities than past storms, such as the Bhola Cyclone of 1970, the destruction it has caused cannot be understated.

The UN has recently said that around 11 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

In addition to this they have made the plea for countries across the world to donate a total sum of $301 million in aid.

The UK ($32m), US ($20m), Japan ($10m), Australia ($28m), South Koera ($5m) and UAE ($10m) have all donated significant amounts of money.

Most of these countries and others like Indonesia as well as the European Commission and Asian Development Bank have played a vital part in providing food, water, shelter materials and medicine to those in need.

However it emerged that China, the world’s second largest economy, are donating less to the Philippines in their hour of need than Ikea.

I find this staggering, considering China have been through catastrophic natural disasters such as Super Typhoon Nina in 1975 and therefore know the vital part that foreign aid plays.

Both in ensuring people survive and so the country is able to rebuild from the ground up.

MAP

The actions (or lack of) from China, compared to the USA’s massive support of 300 military personnel, an aircraft carrier, logistics support and $20 million, are very surprising given the growing position China has in the East.

With their booming economy, many countries are increasingly reliant on them.

Zheng Yongnian, a China politics expert at the National University of Singapore hit the nail on the head when he says China are miles behind the US in terms of soft power.

This would have been an opportunity to show those around them that they can replicate the US on the world stage.

It would be actions like this that could eventually allow China to shift global regional power away from the the US.

However, instead it appears they have shot themselves in the foot.

Diplomacy is something  I think is still underused in world politics and China have evidently bypassed such an approach in what is the ideal context.

It will be interesting to see if they decide to donate more as time goes on or whether political issues with the Philippines regarding overlapping in the South China Sea will prevent this.

Politics aside, the main issue here is that the Philippines desperately need the $301 million in aid as suggested by the UN.

In places such as the devastated city of Tacloban, residents have been left without food or water for 5 days.

Although Haiyan may not have killed as many people as the Bhola Cyclone or the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami the affects are clear to see.

The original delay of aid seems to have passed,  but much more is required to ensure there are no more deaths and that the country can start rebuilding as soon as possible.

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