Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the launch event of the new COMPLICIT report on 16 May due to pre-existing commitments. However, I can assure you that the UK ended its traditional bilateral aid programmes to China in 2011. Our relationship now focuses on cooperation to solve global issues such as climate change and public health.
The UK does still engage in multilateral programme spending in China, as confirmed by Andrew Mitchell, the Minister for Development. The areas where programmes spending continues include the British Council, which works to promote cultural relationships and encourage educational co-operation between the people of the UK and other countries, and the Chevening Scholarships, the UK Government's global scholarships programme. You may also be interested to know that Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending is reviewed on an annual basis.
I appreciate the concerns about cooperating with China, however there is still scope for legitimate cooperation. China’s size and significance on almost every global issue, which will continue to increase in the years ahead, means that China must be part of finding solutions to global challenges. The UK offers expertise and skills to help tackle global issues like climate change, where action by China is critical to reaching our global climate goals, as well as using ODA to fund the ODA eligible portion of the costs of UK diplomatic staff in China, Chinese Chevening scholars and the British Council's ODA eligible activity in China.
All ODA is used in a way that reflects the UK's values and takes account of valid national security concerns, this includes that spent in China. Indeed, the UK only collaborates with China where there is a clear national interest.
Ministers are aware of concerns raised by a recent report from Freedom from Torture regarding a British Council partnership with London Policing College. This project was part of a regional programme that included efforts to reduce human rights violations and other malpractice through better policing. The project did not involve the Xinjiang Policing College or any other public security entities in Xinjiang, and no funds were distributed to any overseas institutions. HM Government has robust processes in place to ensure that all projects funded by UK aid meet our human rights obligations and values.