The United Kingdom has finally cut aid to the world’s second-largest economy and rising adversary China, but will still pay out nearly £1 million to the communist country for “human rights” work.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the reduced aid, which was part of a £4 billion cut in taxpayers’ money going overseas, in a written statement delivered to Parliament on Wednesday. The United Kingdom’s pledged aid fell temporarily from 0.7 per cent GDP to 0.5 per cent in response to the economy being ravaged by the effects of the Chinese coronavirus.
Mr Raab announced a range of reductions in Official Development Assistance (ODA), but the “most draconian” cuts — as phrased by the establishment Times — came down on China, falling from £18 million to around £900,000.
Raab said: “In China, I have reduced FCDO’s ODA for programme delivery by 95% to £0.9m (with additional ODA in this year only to meet the contractual exit costs of former programmes).
“The remaining £900,000 will fund programmes on open societies and human rights.”
Human rights are a thorny issue for China, which was branded a “global threat to human rights” by Human Rights Watch in 2020, with Amnesty determining in 2021 that China was the world’s worst executioner. Amnesty had reported China put to death thousands of people, far higher than the charity’s second-worst graded offender, Iran (estimated in the low hundreds). However, Amnesty’s numbers for China remain an estimate, as “figures remained a state secret”.
Chinese Communists Impose Sanctions on British Politicians, Lawyers, Campaigners https://t.co/cf6QOWclYL
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 26, 2021
The cuts come amidst rising tensions with the Asian superpower, with Raab appearing to suggest the measures may have been part of wider diplomatic targeting on China, saying: “The resulting portfolio marks a strategic shift, putting our aid budget to work alongside our diplomatic network, our science and technology expertise and our economic partnerships in tackling global challenges.”
Chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood had said in November in response to reports the UK had sent some £81 million to the communist country between 2019 and 2020: “Given how Beijing has leveraged its economic might to abuse international standards and norms, we should no longer be funding any aid programmes in China.”
Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith — one of the most outspoken MPs on the issue of China and who was sanctioned by the communist state earlier this year — said according to The Sun that the reduction was “a start”, but “I have to question why we have to send any aid to the world’s second largest economy.
“It is welcome but there are plenty of transactions within the UK that need to stop as they prop up a dictatorial, nasty and frankly horrid regime.”
According to projections from late last year, China could overtake the United States of America to be the world’s largest economy by 2028, five years earlier than previously forecast — thanks in part to the rest of the world slowing down due to the Wuhan pandemic.
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 14, 2020