Home U.K UK sent £70m to China in 2020 ‒ including £900k on 'pollution...

UK sent £70m to China in 2020 ‒ including £900k on 'pollution research'

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This week, the Government announced it will cut its aid budget for programmes in China by 95 percent as tensions between London and Beijing persist. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab unveiled his department’s Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) allocations for 2021-22 in a written parliamentary statement Wednesday. Britain will only spend £900,000 on human rights initiatives in China, he said, with some additional funding this year to meet former contractual agreements. This comes as Mr Raab and many other figures in the UK condemn the treatment of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China. Sarah Champion, the Labour MP who chairs the House of Commons International Development Committee, welcomed the cut in funding to China, but said it was “very surprising” that such a major economy was still receiving UK aid.

In 2011, the UK Government announced it would end its traditional aid programme in China.

But London has continued to invest in the country with cash allocated to help with a variety of issues.

In 2020, the UK invested around £70million in China – including £851,561 on researching air pollution in cities, £278,047 on portable scanners to detect strokes and £438,795 on gastric cancer screening in rural communities.

In the Department for International Development’s Annual Report and Accounts 2019/2020, this spending is outlined.

The UK’s direct spending amounted to around £55million, while its share of spending via organisations such as the UN amounted to £17million.

The UK’s direct costs cover what is called Overseas Development Assistance, which can comprise a variety of things from soldier’s wages to providing advice on human rights issues.

The funding isn’t classified as aid because the UK hoped to benefit from the spending.

Of the £55million spent in China in 2019/2020, around 60 percent of it was spent by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 20 percent was spent by the Foreign Office and the rest is spent by ‘other’.

These are departments which only spend money when they want something for the UK in return.

After stopping its foreign aid to China in 2011, the UK also announced in 2015 the same would be done with India.

However, the Government still invests in projects in the country as it still does with China.

Traditional foreign aid schemes have become less of a priority for the Government, epitomised by Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s November spending review.

He announced cuts in foreign aid from 0.7 percent of national income to 0.5 percent, sparking anger from some within his own party.

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One minister, Lady Sugg, whose brief includes sustainable development, submitted her resignation to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in protest against the cut.

Andrew Mitchell, a former International Development Secretary, said the aid cuts “will be the cause of 100,000 preventable deaths, mainly among children”.

He added: “This is a choice I for one am not prepared to make. None of us will be able to look our children in the eye and claim we did not know what we were voting for.”

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “To cut our aid budget by a third in a year when millions more will fall into extreme poverty will make not just them poorer but us poorer in the eyes of the world.

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“People will worry we are abandoning noble ideas that we have done more to champion than anyone else.”

Tobias Ellwood, the Tory chair of the Defence Select Committee, condemned the move, saying the UK cannot genuinely claim to be global Britain “when our hard power is not matched by soft power”.

Mr Sunak defended his position, claiming that “sticking rigidly to spending 0.7 percent of GDP on overseas aid is difficult to justify to the British people”.

He added that aid spending would fall to £10billion in 2020-21.

Mr Sunak also said he hoped the 0.7 percent target could be restored when the UK’s finances allowed it.



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