WASHINGTON - A prominent US senator reproached China Tuesday for not doing more to support the typhoon-hit Philippines, saying the relief effort showed the need for US leadership in the world.
Beijing initially offered only $100,000 to the Philippines, a Washington ally with which it has tense territorial disputes.
Donations later swelled its aid to $1.8 million, but that was still a fraction of Japan's $30 million or the US commitment of $20 million and its deployment of 1,000 Marines.
"This is an example of Chinese foreign policy, which is ... a one-way street," said Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, seen as a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
"If you can go into these countries and do everything they want you to do, then they respond with cash assistance and things of this nature," he said at a Senate hearing.
"When you have a humanitarian crisis, the Chinese have been less than willing to respond. 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," he added, pointing to US operations after earthquakes in Pakistan in 2005 and Haiti in 2010.
Rubio, while saying he welcomed China's rise, called Typhoon Haiyan "a graphic example" of the need for a strong US role in the world.
"Imagine a world without an engaged United States. This response effort would not be at the stage it's at now," Rubio said.
State Department official Scot Marciel, testifying before the Senate panel, declined to criticize China but voiced confidence that the US relief operation has been "widely noticed" in the Philippines and throughout Asia, the region President Barack Obama has identified as a priority.
"We've responded fully to the crisis for humanitarian reasons. But I think it has... reinforced in the minds of Filipino people that we're a long-time and good partner that they can depend on," he said.
Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, made landfall on November 8 and has affected up to four million people, with the official death toll at nearly 4,000 people.
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