Own Goal: UK Foreign Aid To Splash £3 Million On Football In China

Chinese Football Children
Kevin Frayer/Getty

China has the fastest growing economy in the world, standing second only to the US as a financial powerhouse. Its wealth is building exponentially and the Asian giant is sufficiently advanced to have a space exploration program of its own.

Still, that hasn’t stopped a UK foreign aid cash grant of £3 million being approved yesterday to help develop football across the nation.

Chancellor George Osborne, who is one a five-day tour of China, made the announcement during a visit to the Xinjiang region. His revelation came on the same day that cash-strapped Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge was found to be “inadequate” and placed in special measures. He said:

“Grassroots football plays an instrumental role in UK life, and it is brilliant to be able to spread that to China. This fantastic scheme which will bring new opportunities to young people across China will also help bring increased awareness and investment into the UK football sector.

“The deal we’ve been able to do here is just one example of the ways we can work together with China to benefit both our nations – and I look forward to seeing the results.”

Dia Chakravarty, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, was not quite as pleased as the chancellor with this cash splash. He said the gesture will “amaze” taxpayers who are told that the government is doing everything it can to control spiralling debt.

“Politicians like to tell us that we no longer give aid to countries like China but then they bankroll ludicrous schemes like this,” Chakravaty said. “Hard-pressed families will not be happy.”

The lavish grant was made under something called the Premier Skills scheme. It is run by the Premier League with the British Council and aims to nurture new Chinese stars and has, so far, trained 1,100 coaches and reached nearly 500,000 young people in the world’s second-largest economy.

Ukip MP Douglas Carswell was also less than pleased: He said:

“Clearly, George Osborne is out of his depth. The problem is, he’s out of his depth with our money. We’ve got these clowns going to China, teaching people how to play football. It’s tragically daft.

“Given that the Chinese government has hundreds of billions of dollars and George Osborne’s government is skint, it’s odd that we are paying £3million as a gift to train coaches.

“We are not just giving £3million of public money for a photo opportunity, we are handing China £2billion to produce expensive electricity.”

Mr Osborne has used his trip to guarantee £2billion to encourage Chinese investment in nuclear power plants in the UK but rejected claims this visit endorses China’s treatment of ethnic Uighur minorities.

The chancellor said he had raised human rights issues after reports that clashes in Xinjiang had left 40 dead or injured and he shared concern over a jail term for intellectual Ilham Tohti.

As Breitbart London reported yesterday, Britain is a significant contributor to global aid. Earlier this year, it became the first country in the G7 to honour its commitment to ringfencing 0.7 per cent of gross national income for foreign aid.

That means that 7p of every £10 raised from taxpayers is spent on overseas development. In 2013, this amounted to £11.4bn. Provisional figures for 2014 suggest the figure rose to £11.8bn and is set to rise again in 2015.

Now it seems soccer in China is also to benefit from that munificence.

Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: or e-mail to: skent@breitbart.com



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