Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has called for the UK to stop giving foreign aid to China after a watchdog revealed almost £50million was sent last year.
A report by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact showed that in 2021-22 the UK sent China around £48million in aid, down from just over £80million in 2019.
It comes as the UK evaluates its relationship with Beijing, with many backbench MPs pushing for a firmer approach.
Among them, Sir Iain has criticised the handouts as “bizarre”, telling Express.co.uk: “China is now the second largest economy in the world. It seems bizarre that we would be giving aid to China given their own financial position.
“Whatever else the Government says it’s time for that to stop and for that aid to be given to countries that genuinely need the assistance and help in developing their economies.”
READ MORE: Outrage as Britain hands China almost £50million in foreign aid
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The amount of financial aid sent to China is forecast to fall to £10million by the end of 2024 but the watchdog also raised concerns about “insufficient transparency” in how the money is spent.
Sir Hugh Bayley, who led the latest review, said: “While UK aid to China has fallen rapidly in recent years, taxpayers are still not being told clearly how much aid will continue and what it will be spent on.”
He continued: “From the limited information shared with us, we’ve established that most aid funding to China from across government has ended. Remaining aid spend will focus on higher education, English language, arts and culture and, to a lesser extent, human rights.”
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A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “We stopped direct aid to the Chinese Government in 2011 and the FCDO committed to cut ODA-funded programmes in China by 95 percent from the 2021-22 financial year with remaining funding focused on specific programmes that support British values around open societies and human rights. No funding goes to the Chinese authorities.”
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