China increased its aid to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines after drawing criticism for providing an initial sum of just $100,000, less than six percent of what New Zealand said it would give.
China is now sending $1.64 million in supplies like tents and blankets, according to state media reports on Wednesday, and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly offered “heartfelt sympathies” in a telephone call with his counterpart in the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III. A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said at a news conference Thursday that aid could increase as needed.
Relations between the two countries have suffered amid recent tension over disputed territory in the South China Sea. China’s weak response following the typhoon, which killed at least 2,357 people according, drew international criticism but also some praise domestically.
The U.S. has pledged $20 million in aid and U.S. Marines have already flown in supplies and drinking water. On Thursday, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and another seven ships arrived with supplies.