The UK’s aid engagement with China

An information note providing a factual account of how UK aid has been spent by government departments supporting China’s own development, partnering with China on global development challenges, and working with third countries on their engagement with China.

  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 28 April 2021
  3. Type: Information note
  4. Subject: Transitioning development partnerships
  5. Location: China
  6. Lead commissioner: Sir Hugh Bayley

Latest news

We published our information note on the UK’s aid engagement with China in April 2021, and identified four lines of inquiry that merit further scrutiny.

Research for this note was completed before the Foreign Secretary’s announcement on 21 April 2021 that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) aid to China would be cut. We plan to update this note when further details of the government’s future plans for aid engagement with China are known.

Summary

China’s development progress over the last three decades has re-shaped its status and role in the international community. Although China is still defined as a developing country, it is expected to reach the income threshold to graduate from aid eligibility in the next four to six years, and it plays an increasingly important role in the developing world as a donor, investor and trading partner.

In 2011, the former Department for International Development (DFID) announced it would no longer provide official development assistance (ODA) to China, or support its domestic development. Instead, it would work with China to shape its role in the world, including its engagement with Africa and other developing regions – and in 2015, a new partnership between the UK and China was announced to tackle global development issues.

Other government departments, including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Prosperity Fund and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), scaled up their aid spend since 2015, putting in place new partnerships with China in areas such as research and innovation, health and climate change. Information in the public domain about this aid spend has been limited.

This information note aims to shed more light on the subject by providing an account of the nature and objectives of UK development cooperation with China. Its purpose is to improve transparency and support informed discussion among parliamentarians and other interested actors.

As an information note, it does not make evaluative judgments or make recommendations.

Timeline

Approach

Published 11 November 2020

Evidence gathering

Complete

Information note publication

Published 28 April 2021

Further scrutiny

Details to be confirmed