Comparing the US and Chinese Flood Relief Assistance to Pakistan

The worst flooding in Pakistan’s recent history has caused widespread devastation, destroying hundreds of thousands of homes, schools, and public health facilities. Families have been living in the open without access to potable water, food, or a source of income. Around 10 million affected children need immediate, life-saving aid as they are exposed to a wide range of flood-related risks. Though the Government of Pakistan (GOP) continues to oversee relief efforts, response activities are being hampered by infrastructural damage. The flood has further hindered the already strained economy. In such a scenario, Pakistan has been pushed to its limits, leaving the government with no choice but to allow the international community to extend their assistance. Resource unavailability is rampant to such a level that foreign aid seems to be a help in disguise. Though several countries have announced assistance, China and the United States are the two leading nations that have come forward to assuage the burden that have fell on Pakistan due to the natural calamity. This article reviews the type, route, and extent of the US and Chinese flood relief assistance to Pakistan.

Pakistan, in this time of need, has received immediate help from China. The assistance started very soon after the flood, in August 2022. The Chinese flood assistance to Pakistan ranges from governmental aid to individual/private aid. So far, China has announced $74.37M of assistance to Pakistan, which is the highest compared to any other country. The details of the scope of the Chinese flood aid are given in Table 1.

Table 1: Chinese Flood Aid to Pakistan*

* Source: Daily Times, The Express Tribune and The Nation. (Note: these figures are recorded till September 2022 and are subject to change.)

Under the aegis of the Chinese government, most of the initial aid has been supplied to Pakistan via dozens of special planes. The donation amounts to $55.08M. In terms of vital relief supplies, China has sent 4,000 tents, 50,000 blankets, and 50,000 pieces of waterproof canvas as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) social and livelihood cooperation framework. In addition, the Chinese Red Cross Society intends to provide the Pakistan Red Crescent Society with 0.3 million USD in critical cash support.

Moreover, Chinese individual/private entities have also come forward to show solidarity with the flood victims through cash and vital supply donations. The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) has donated relief and rehabilitation aid for the Pakistani flood victims, totaling RMB 125M. Similarly, the All Pakistan Chinese Enterprises’ Association (APCEA) has given $1.79M to the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund 2022 through the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The plea has been enthusiastically answered by China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Ltd, which has given a substantial donation of almost $650,000—the largest sum a Chinese company has given to Pakistan for flood assistance. Also, State Grid has offered $200,000 to the Pakistani Embassy in China.

Likewise, Pakistan has seen a swift response from the United States to the recent flood. The assistance to Pakistan came through the United States government and its partner organisations (implementing agencies). So far, the United States has announced more than $50M for flood relief. A detailed breakdown of the aid is given in Table 2.

Table 2: American Flood Aid to Pakistan*

 *Source: USAID. (Note: These figures are recorded till September 2022 and are subject to change.)

Though the United States administration acted immediately on a humanitarian basis by announcing initial aid at the end of August 2022, it sent the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) for a thorough assessment of the calamity in September 2022. The United States government so far has opted for two main streams of help for Pakistan. First, through the USAID and the Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance via Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA), providing immediate relief through shelter and settlements and ensuring water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). The second stream of aid from the United States has been through engaging other partner organisations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist in multiple sectors by taking the lead defence department to provide logistics under the US Central Command (CENTCOM). USCENTCOM has been air-lifting vital relief supplies from the USAID warehouses in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), to Pakistan since the beginning of September 2022.

Conclusion

The recent floods have created havoc in one-third of Pakistan, leaving millions homeless and hundreds dead. The country has received infrastructural damage worth billions of dollars. The Pakistani economy is already struggling to function in the face of a political crisis that has gripped the country since the beginning of 2022. In the given situation, humanitarian assistance from China and the United States has supported Pakistan. China, an all-weather friend, is ahead of the United States in supporting Pakistan. However, given the increased anti-Americanism in Pakistan because of the ex-PM Imran Khan’s “regime change” mantra, it is interesting to see that the United States is actively working and supporting the flood-hit people of Pakistan. Apparently, from this American approach, the United States government is guaranteed to restore its image in Pakistan.

Tauseef Javed

Tauseef Javed works at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research (CSCR) as a Research Associate. He is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at Fujian Normal University in Fuzhou, China. His research focuses on international relations, history, and area studies from an interdisciplinary perspective.

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