And Bruges Group director Robert Oulds was backed by Tory MP David Jones, who was likewise baffled by the news – while welcoming yesterday’s announcement by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that overseas aid was being scaled back dramatically. Speaking yesterday, Mr Raab said the UK was cutting foreign aid to China by 95 percent, with the £900,000 budget ring-fenced for groups promoting human rights and democracy in the communist-ruled country.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak reduced the proportion of GDP which goes towards foreign aid from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent in his November budget – amounting to an overall cut of £4billion.
Of this, £18million had been paid annually to China, a figure Foreign Affairs committee chairman Tom Tugendhat has described as “extraordinary”.
Mr Oulds agreed, telling Express.co.uk: “China owes us billions of pounds for the damage their Wuhan lab has done to us.
He explained: “China is the world’s second largest economy and will shortly become the largest.
“It has a space programme and possesses nuclear weapons.
“It behaves overbearingly in the region, stifles democracy in Hong Kong, and has a troubling human rights record in Xinjiang.
“It’s unacceptable that it should receive a penny of British taxpayers’ money.”
Speaking to the International Development Committee today, Mr Rab said: “What I have tried to do, as early and as proactively as possible, is give you the headline allocations and there have been colleagues on all sides of the House who have been champing at the bit for me to do.
“But, as I said, the normal process, via DevTracker and supplementary estimates, to provide the more granular detail comes much, much later.
“We are certainly embracing that transparency and I would hope that coming to your committee and releasing as much as we have at this point via written ministerial statement the day before demonstrates that goodwill.”
Asked why he did not make the announcement in the Commons, Mr Raab added: “First of all, we wouldn’t normally set out the thematic allocations, the spending, at this early stage in the financial year.
“In fact, I think it’s almost unprecedented. So, what I have tried to do is set out the raw data, broken down by allocation.
“We haven’t done this in anything other than a fully transparent way, given it to the committee, and indeed members of the House, the day before, precisely so that you can grill me for the two hours you have got me here today.”