The Daily Telegraph

Raab slashes aid payments to China

- By Gordon Rayner Political editor

DOMINIC RAAB has ordered aid payments to China to be slashed after it emerged Britain gave £71 million of taxpayers’ money to the Far East superpower in a single year.

Some of the aid money was used to help Chinese firms compete with UK rivals.

Beijing is currently threatenin­g economic reprisals against Britain after the UK suspended its extraditio­n treaty with Hong Kong and banned Huawei from the 5G network.

China also stands accused of trying to steal coronaviru­s research from other countries through hacking, targeting a British cancer research firm, and committing human rights abuses against ethnic minorities.

In 2018, Government department­s sent millions to China for projects including teaching its citizens to use technology, helping it settle business disputes and training teachers, a report published this week reveals.

Millions were given to the China prosperity fund, which gives money to schemes that “address market failures and weaknesses that impede China’s inclusive economic growth”. The sum was a 29 per cent increase on 2017, the Department for Internatio­nal Developmen­t’s annual report shows, despite China’s annual GDP being five times higher than that of Britain.

Last night, Tory MPS demanded to know why taxpayers’ money was being sent to China when it was “breaking every rule in the book”. Most of the money was sent by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Another £287.9million was sent to India which, like China, has its own space programme.

Yesterday, sources close to Mr Raab said aid payments to China and other “middle income” countries had been slashed after the Foreign Secretary took over the Department for Internatio­nal Developmen­t.

Britain’s internatio­nal aid spending will be cut by £2.9billion this year because it is linked to Gross National Income (GNI) which has fallen rapidly because of the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Mr Raab has ordered Government department­s that spend money on overseas aid to find savings by concentrat­ing on the world’s poorest nations. In a letter to the heads of two parliament­ary committees, Mr Raab said money would be spent on the “bottom billion” of the world’s most needy, with much of the money going to 40 countries considered the most vulnerable to the pandemic.

The UK would meet its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on internatio­nal developmen­t, but the budget, set at £15.8billion before coronaviru­s, will be reduced by the same percentage as the fall in the economy.

In a letter to Sarah Champion, chairman of the Commons internatio­nal developmen­t committee, Mr Raab said that money spent this calendar year “remains prioritise­d on poverty reduction for the ‘bottom billion’”, as well as tackling climate change, championin­g girls’ education, UK leadership in the global response to Covid-19, and campaignin­g on issues such as media freedom and freedom of religious belief. But, Ms Champion told The Daily Telegraph: “The letter speaks of delaying activity and stopping some spending – what is the timescale on this? If it is with immediate effect, do the projects know or will they find out via the media?

“Clearly, there has been no consultati­on, but to release this news as Parliament rises so there can be no scrutiny by MPS is poor practice.”

 ??  ?? Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, with Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, at a pub near Chevening House in Kent, as the two men held talks over internatio­nal issues
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, with Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, at a pub near Chevening House in Kent, as the two men held talks over internatio­nal issues

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