The world’s second largest economy, China, has promised a measly $100,000 in aid to Manila, along with another $100,000 through the Chinese Red Cross.
Super Typhoon Haiyan tore through the central Philippines on Friday and flattened the city of Tacloban, where officials fear 10,000 people died. Officials fear the toll could rise sharply as rescuers reach more isolated towns.
Overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, the Philippines has sought international assistance.
China’s disappointing pledge is probably due to a decades-old territorial squabble over the South China Sea.
Lye Liang Fook of the East Asian Institute in Singapore said it was impossible to separate China's anger over territorial claims from the question of disaster relief.
"Politically there is a lack of trust, and under the circumstances, the fact that China is willing to extend aid is quite significant," he said. "The two issues are linked to each other."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China would consider more aid as the situation developed, but did not say why Beijing had offered less than other countries.
"The Chinese leadership has missed an opportunity to show its magnanimity," said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at the City University of Hong Kong who focuses on China's ties with Southeast Asia.
"While still offering aid to the typhoon victims, it certainly reflects the unsatisfactory state of relations (with Manila)."
Japan has offered $10 million in aid and is sending in an emergency relief team, for instance, while Australia has donated $9.6 million.
The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS George Washington, carrying about 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, will arrive this week after setting sail from Hong Kong on Tuesday. It has been joined by four other U.S. Navy ships.
The United States is also providing $20 million in immediate aid. Japan said it will give $10 million and send a small number of soldiers and medical personnel.
Philippine’s President released a statement today refuting the projected death toll being quoted in the international media.
"We're hoping to be able to contact something like 29 municipalities left wherein we still have to establish their numbers, especially for the missing, but so far 2,000, about 2,500, is the number we are working on as far as deaths are concerned," he said.
The official death toll stood at 1,774 on Tuesday.
China's ties with the Philippines are already fragile as a decades-old territorial squabble over the South China Sea enters a more contentious chapter, with claimant nations spreading deeper into disputed waters in search of energy supplies, while building up their navies.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the South China Sea, making it one of the region's biggest flashpoints.
Even China's state-run Global Times newspaper, known for its nationalistic and often hawkish editorial views, expressed concern about the impact on Beijing's international standing.
"China, as a responsible power, should participate in relief operations to assist a disaster-stricken neighbouring country, no matter whether it's friendly or not," the paper said in a commentary.
"China's international image is of vital importance to its interests. If it snubs Manila this time, China will suffer great losses."