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UK to scrap US$16 million in foreign aid to China

·3 min read

Britain plans to stop sending overseas aid to China, with the money being put to better use in other countries, according to the United Kingdom's business secretary.

The British government sent about £13 million (US$16 million) in overseas development assistance (ODA) to China last year, a small fraction of the £11.5 billion (US$14 billion) it spent in 2021, according to British business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. The UK sent £1.07 billion to Asia-specific programmes and nations last year.

"We'll work with China to tackle global challenges, but we can make a bigger difference spending UK aid where it is more needed," Kwarteng said in a tweet, confirming the news.

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In a separate written statement to Parliament, George Freeman, the minister for science, research and innovation, said the British government would continue to work with China on areas such as climate change and preventing antimicrobial resistance.

Today I have confirmed my Department will bring all overseas aid spending in China to an end. Last year, this was around £13m We'll work with China to tackle global challenges, but we can make a bigger difference spending UK aid where it is more needed 👉🏾https://t.co/WGNMmVLUX9

- Kwasi Kwarteng (@KwasiKwarteng) May 17, 2022

However, Britain would no longer use ODA funding for such research efforts after the end of this financial year, Freeman said.

The move comes just days after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss outlined a new international development strategy, in which the UK would use its aid and investment to "challenge dependency on malign actors" to offer alternatives for developing countries.

"In an increasingly geopolitical world, we must use development as a key part of our foreign policy. Malign actors treat economics and development as a means of control, using patronage, investment and debt as a form of economic coercion and political power," Truss said in a statement on Monday. "We won't mirror their malign tactics, but we will match them in our resolve to provide an alternative.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks at Mansion House in April. Photo: AP alt=Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks at Mansion House in April. Photo: AP>

Truss did not specifically mention China at the time, but the announcement appeared to be a rebuke to China's Belt and Road Initiative.

It was the latest in a series of hawkish comments by Truss about China in recent months.

In a speech at Mansion House in April, Truss warned that Beijing must "play by the rules" or face consequences, such as the international sanctions that have stifled Russia's economy since its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

"China is not impervious. By talking about the rise of China as inevitable we are doing China's work for it. In fact, their rise isn't inevitable. They will not continue to rise if they don't play by the rules," Truss said in her speech.

"China needs trade with the G7. We represent half of the global economy. And we have choices," she added. "We have shown with Russia the kind of choices we're prepared to make when international rules are violated. And we've shown that we're prepared to prioritise security and respect for sovereignty over short-term economic gain."

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.