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Beijing’s Disaster Politics

Apr 30 , 2015

Governments around the world are rushing humanitarian supplies to Nepal after Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed at least 4,400 people and left tens of thousands homeless. With one prominent exception: Taiwan.

That’s not because the Taiwanese are stingy. The island’s leaders offered help, but Kathmandu refused. Nepalese officials cited the distance, absence of direct flights and lack of diplomatic ties. Those aren’t convincing explanations. Taiwan flew C-130s full of aid to quake-ravaged Haiti in 2010 and was the second-largest donor (behind the U.S.) to Japan’s Red Cross after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

The likelier reason for Nepal’s refusal is that China claims Taiwan is part of its territory and tries to keep the island isolated internationally. Beijing blocks Taiwan from joining humanitarian bodies such as the World Health Organization and this month rejected Taiwan’s bid to participate in the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

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