China gives all of $1 million (that's one-tenth of one cent per Chinese citizen) to the Haiti relief effort, while the United States gives a still-too-modest $100 million (plus materials, support, manpower). Even tiny Israel sent the only full-blown operating theatre, pediatric ICU and hospital (including radiology and maternity wards) with 40 doctors and attached search-and-rescue units. Saudi Arabia, conversely, certainly one of the richest countries in the world, sent their magnanimous condolences - perhaps tragedies for non-Muslims warrant their lesser interest? Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie each matched China's total donation. Are so few of us "our brother's keepers"?
Elsewhere, however, the Chinese will drop billions of investment dollars into emerging, resource-rich autocracies like Nigeria and Angola, not to mention the truculent Iran and Venezuela. They will apply limitless energy and take on seemingly endless risks to build ports and railroads in third world wastelands with oil and metals. And yet 50,000 dead and more dying in Haiti are off their radar, presumably because Haiti has no oil, no metals, no commodities-and hence no pecuniary advantage to ply.
China's motivations are self-evident: this allegedly "communist" police state is in fact the world's most effective national capitalist. Still, is there not a charitable bone in their Politburo's body? Is there any semblance of empathy for the weak, the poor, and the devastated, particularly when the Haitian tragedy so closely mirrors the horrors of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake? It would seem not.
Indeed, it would behoove the West to understand that ethics and morality-the underlying if often ignored tenets of Western Civilization-do not figure at all in the Chinese government's approach to the outside world. To do so is to be pragmatic about China's mercantlisit self-interest and its very essential difference with the West. If ignored, this reality will only exacerbate future conflicts between China and America. Our politicians, our military and our business community will need to understand this core difference and chart a realistic path for our competing futures.
China wants to dominate, not partner with, America. To follow our current wishful thinking is to rely on dangerous naivety at best.
The Chinese may adore the panda, but they revere and fear only the tiger.