Close on the heels of the US’s announcement that it would send 3,000 military troops to combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa, China said today it is stepping up aid to fight the disease—by adding a 59-member team of laboratory workers to the 115 Chinese already there.
China has close investment and business ties with the affected African nations, is Africa’s biggest trading partner, has spent billions of dollars on infrastructure projects and mining deals there, and has an estimated 20,000 citizens in Liberia, Sierre Leone, and Guinea. Big Chinese companies like Huawei have pledged not to pull out of the region despite the growing outbreak.
But China’s humanitarian aid efforts are being dwarfed by the US’s, in both money and manpower. The US already has spent $175 million on efforts to fight the disease, and the additional troops could cost $750 million. China’s total pledged aid is $37 million.
Perhaps the shortfall shouldn’t come as a surprise—China has a history of offering paltry humanitarian aid to other nations in the face of tragedy.