Aid to China?


From da House yesterday:

Mr Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East) (Con): My hon. Friend mentions China and the huge steps forward that it has taken in its growing economy. Its gross domestic product now stands at about 9.5% or 9.6%-growth that compares quite favourably with ours. Is it therefore right that we continue to provide that country with Department for International Development funds to the tune of-I may stand corrected-about £30 million a year?

Jeremy Browne (Lib Dem and Foreign Office Minister): An interesting evolution in the power balance in the world is taking place, with these huge emerging countries. Although China’s GDP is slightly greater than ours, it is worth reminding ourselves that their population is 25 times higher, so their GDP per capita is very much smaller than ours. Hundreds of millions of people in China have yet to benefit from the huge advances that that country has made over the past decade or two. At the moment, we have this slightly strange situation whereby many of the emerging economies are the new powerhouses and yet still have millions of people living in absolute poverty. I think that there will be an evolutionary period in which they are apparently two slightly contradictory things simultaneously: they will require aid and assistance while becoming increasingly significant economic and political players. Over time, that balance needs to be reflected in the contributions that we make in aid.

My two cents:

1) I don’t feel comfortable with the UK giving £30 million of development funds to help alleviate absolute poverty in China when the number of super rich Chinese is ballooning. In a meagre way, aren’t we simply subsidising gross inequality in China?

2) Without wanting to get like too much of an IR realist, why the blooming heck do we want to provide assistance to a nation which is becoming a “significant economic and political” competitor? On top of its lack of democracy, its appalling human rights record and its unhelpful support for regimes such in North Korea and Burma, China recently executed a mentally ill British citizen, thus showing clear disrespect for relations with the UK.

Methinks that £30 million could be better spent elsewhere.


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