Britain gives £71m to China – read where those tax millions are going

ROSS CLARK: What planet are we on? Britain gives £71m to China in aid – even though they’re on the warpath over Huawei… and yesterday blasted a rocket to Mars. But now, if you can stomach it, read where those tax millions are going

  • UK taxpayers have forked out an eye-watering £71million in foreign aid to China
  • In 2018, almost £100million was carved out to finance the China Prosperity Fund
  • Britain also sent £110,000 to try and stop money laundering in the Asian country 

There can be no greater symbol of mankind’s prosperity than a giant rocket blasting off to a far-flung planet with its engines blazing orange. 

So in many ways, China’s successful launch yesterday of its mission to conquer Mars was a highly fitting moment for the world’s second largest economy. 

Certainly it was a bold gesture by the manufacturing superpower which makes no attempt to hide its ambitions to overtake the US to become the world’s premier economic titan. 

All of which makes it utterly perplexing – not to say concerning – that, as yesterday’s Mail revealed, UK taxpayers have forked out an eye-watering £71million in foreign aid to China in just one year. 

For as ROSS CLARK reveals, each penny given to Beijing would have been much better spent in Britain… 

£99million to make China even richer 

You could be forgiven for thinking that given China’s GDP is almost five times greater than the UK’s, they should be sending us aid. 

And yet in 2018, almost £100million was carved out to finance the Department for International Trade’s China Prosperity Fund over four years. 

Despite China being a financial superpower, the fund is designed ‘to address market failures and weaknesses that impede China’s inclusive economic growth and will help China’s ongoing transition to an inclusive, sustainable and productive economy’. 

So far, £6million has been spent. After the devastation wreaked by the Covid19 pandemic on the UK economy, that money will be sorely missed. 

Only last month the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development warned our economy is likely to suffer the worst damage from the crisis of any country in the developed world. 

China successfully launched a rocket equipped with its own Mars rover on Thursday, making utterly perplexing that UK taxpayers have forked out an eye-watering £71million in foreign aid to China in just one year

£500,000 on ‘supporting human rights’ 

Between April 2018 and April 2019, £559,554 of taxpayers’ money was spent on ‘supporting human rights, democracy and the rules-based international system in China’. 

Yet shortly after it received the money, China imposed an unprecedented security law on Hong Kong which has undermined its citizens’ democratic rights to protest and free speech. 

Meanwhile, footage on the BBC at the weekend appeared to confirm that the Chinese government has built concentration campstyle institutions to imprison its Uighur Muslim population. 

£2.4m for Chinese students in UK

Launched in 2018 as part of the Chevening Scholarship scheme, the Government has allocated £4.7million to help Chinese students ‘pursue postgraduate study at UK higher education institutions, returning to contribute to the development of their home country’. 

So far, £2.4million has been spent. Meanwhile, native students are paying through the nose to study at British universities – in the same year the scheme started, the average UK graduate left university with £36,000 of debt. 

Shortly before the generous foreign aid policy was announced, the Government jacked up tuition fees from £9,000 to £9,250 a year – a sum students are still having to pay even though many are not currently receiving any face-toface teaching thanks to the coronavirus crisis.

Between April 2018 and April 2019, £559,554 of taxpayers’ money was spent on ‘supporting human rights, democracy and the rules-based international system in China’

£3.86m to boost infrastructure 

While we’ve been dragging our heels over the construction of HS2 and Heathrow’s third runway, the Chinese have merrily been covering their country with new highspeed railways and airports. 

And yet still our Government thinks we should be helping the Chinese build more – to the tune of £3.86million. 

The hope is that China will start to build infrastructure that promotes ‘increased and more sustainable investment’. Meanwhile, Britain continues to rely on the Chinese to finance our own infrastructure projects – notably the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

£110,000 to fight money laundering 

Just this week, a report by the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee chillingly warned that London has become a worldwide hub for Russian money laundering – with the capital becoming a ‘Londongrad laundromat.’ 

As the Russia reports leave Britain reeling from the new moniker ‘Londongrad’ it has been revealed we sent £110,000 to fight money laundering in China

And yet the International Trade Department seems to think that Britain is a leading light in the global fight against illegal commercial transactions. 

In 2018, it forked out £110,000 to China to develop ‘an effective anti-money laundering system in China, aligned with global standards’. 

£85k to improve education 

THE scheme to train China’s nursery teachers still has one year to go but has already eaten through £73,823 of the £83,368 budget. 

As with so many aid projects, the Government is trying to tackle a problem in China which it has failed to remedy at home. 

Shortly after the project was launched in 2018, freedom of information requests revealed that 10,731 nurseries, playgroups and children’s centres don’t have staff with qualified teacher status – a scenario described at the time by then education secretary Damian Hinds as a ‘persistent scandal’. 

£1.1m on inclusive financial services 

The project, launched in 2019 and due to run for three years, is supposed to help China’s banks operate in a ‘more efficient and inclusive financial system, less exposed to significant shocks’. 

Quite what we have to teach the world on the financial stability of banks, following the collapse of Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland, isn’t clear. 

The Government’s time and effort might be better spent addressing serious issues with our own banking system, such as the rise of aggressive overdraft charges. 

£15k to bolster their pensions

In 2018, a four-year project was launched with the aim of improving China’s ‘annuity policy and explore the feasibility of… [incentivising] participation in occupational pensions’. 

But instead of helping Chinese workers save for a prosperous retirement, that money could have been better spent in Britain, where a year before the project was launched the Financial Conduct Authority warned that one in three British workers are not saving enough for retirement. 

£400k on skills shortages 

Britain donated £19,000 to support a ‘more skilled and productive workforce helping China’s ongoing transition to an inclusive, sustainable and productive economy’

The project, launched in 2018, is designed ‘to identify barriers to and opportunities for addressing China’s skills gap, and to propose recommendations and interventions in specific sectors’. 

Despite the fact it’s supposed to run for another two years, it has already overspent its £400,000 budget – £410,338 to date. 

Rather than helping their foreign competitors, the money would be much better spent fixing the acute skills shortages in British companies. Indeed in the same year the project was launched, a Government report revealed that there were 226,000 vacancies which employers couldn’t fill due to a shortage of qualified applicants. 

£21k to stop illegal wildlife trade 

Since 2018, the UK taxpayer has forked out £20,800 to combat China’s illegal wildlife trade. 

The scheme claims to ‘protect wildlife and accompanying vulnerable communities from crime and corruption’.

Yet two years later, it is clear that China has no interest in changing its ways. Take the current Covid-19 pandemic, which is said to have originated in a desperately unhygienic Chinese ‘wet market’ where live animals are sold. 

Further, in a blatant display of disregard for Britain’s money, the Chinese have responded to international criticism of their handling of the crisis by reopening wet markets around the country. 

£100k to improve animal testing 

Rightly concerned about China’s relaxed regulations, £98,256 has been spent on seeking ‘to reform China’s animal testing laws… aligning them and Chinese industries’ practice with internationally-recognised standards’. 

It is hoped that this will reduce ‘unnecessary animal testing in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals’. 

Quite why we need to be handing money to the Chinese government to stop maltreating animals, when a boycott would be far more efficient, isn’t explained.

£59k to support offshore wind 

The year-long project, launched in 2018, was supposed ‘to support China in developing subsidy policies for offshore wind’. 

Britain sent China £59,000 in 2018 as part of a project to ‘‘to support China in developing subsidy policies for offshore wind’

But despite almost every other country in the world now pledging to reduce their coal-burning – Britain is committed to closing all coal-fired power plants by 2025 – China’s programme of building the plants is actually accelerating. 

In fact, over the course of the Department for International Development’s project, China added 43 gigawatts of extra coalfired capacity – significantly more than the country’s entire offshore wind capacity for the same year. 

£22k on business dispute system 

The project, which ran from April 2018 to April 2019, was supposed to draw on ‘UK judicial expertise’ to enable China to ‘deal with international commercial disputes’. 

It cost almost twice its £12,500 budget, consuming £22,049. 

Yet it doesn’t appear to have had any positive effects, with Chinese firms continuing to pilfer intellectual property from Western companies. 

Just this year, FBI director Christopher Wray warned that his organisation has ‘about 1,000 investigations involving China’s attempted theft of US-based technology’. 

£19k to boost productivity 

This programme, gushes DfID, will lead to a ‘more skilled and productive workforce helping China’s ongoing transition to an inclusive, sustainable and productive economy’. 

It seems bizarre that we are helping the world’s second largest economy to snatch skilled jobs from our own industries. 

A study by the GMB union in 2018 – the year the Chinese project began – concluded that the UK had lost 600,000 manufacturing jobs over the previous decade – many of which have disappeared to manufacturing giant China. 

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