As the ships, aircraft and crews of the Australian, New Zealand, Indonesian and Indian navies rushed to the aid of a region scoured by a tsunami, joining a large American flotilla and various British, Thai, Japanese and Malaysian units, the Chinese fleet remained in port.
In fact, the only significant statement from Chinas defense ministry in the days following the tsunami was a Dec. 27 announcement that China and Russia would hold major air and naval war games later this year.
News reports of that announcement focused on Russias motives it was speculated that this was Moscows way of showing how irritated Russia was that its tampering with Ukraines election had been thwarted by Western pressure. Yet the tin ear China showed for the suffering of its neighbors is even more important. At a time when tens of thousands in its neighborhood were at risk of starvation, dehydration and disease, Chinas focus was right where it has been for centuries: China.
No hands on deck
With the exception of the American 7th Fleet, based in Japan, China maintains the largest amphibious force in the region, a force with precisely the kind of ships desperately needed in parts of the region rendered inaccessible by the battering waves. The newest and heaviest of these vessels, the 11 ships of the Yutang class, are capable of delivering large amounts of aid to the ragged shorelines now occupying the place where port facilities once sat. Designed for an invasion of Taiwan someday, they also can produce enough fresh water each day to keep a medium sized city alive. Even little Singapore dispatched two smaller landing vessels to the devastated region.
It seems that China is MIA on aid to its own neighbors, wealthy gulf states, bursting with oil wealth due to recent price spikes have contributed a pittance, and it's American troops, civilians and money to the rescue once again. Between private and public contributions, no one can hold a candle to what the US is doing. And yet since the disaster struck it has served as nothing but a new excuse for America-bashing. Truly sickening.