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China ready to send rescue teams to Philippines

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:57 a.m. HST, Nov 17, 2013

BEIJING >>China said Sunday (Saturday in Hawaii) it is ready to send rescue and medical teams to the Philippines, in a belated offer coming more than a week after a devastating typhoon struck the island nation.

The proposal made in a statement on the Foreign Ministry's website follows an extremely modest pledge of less than $2 million in disaster assistance made last week.

The small offering has been attributed to spite over a festering dispute with Manila over South China Sea islands claimed by both sides. China, which has the world's second largest economy, claims the entire sea and its island groups and has been enraged by Manila's robust defense of what it says long been Philippine territory.

Views expressed on the Chinese Internet have argued strongly against aiding the Philippines, despite the potential damage to China's hopes of being regarded as a responsible regional and possibly global leader.

In the statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was quoted as saying Saturday that China was monitoring conditions in the Philippines and the emergency teams would depart for the hardest hit areas "should conditions permit."

There was no immediate indication whether the aid teams were preparing to depart or whether the Philippine government had accepted the Chinese offer.

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