The British government launched a new international development strategy on May 16. The following day, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng said the U.K. would bring 16 million dollars of Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding in China to an end.
On May 17, Kwarteng tweeted, “We’ll work with China to tackle global challenges, but we can make a bigger difference spending U.K. aid where it is more needed.”
On May 17, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss issued a Press Release saying that the U.K. will focus more on spending taxpayer money to “provide honest and reliable finance to help low- and middle-income countries.” The U.K.’s new strategy would allow these countries not to take on those unsustainable debts that come with strings attached.
Truss said that development should be a key part of Britain’s foreign policy in this geopolitical world; to provide an alternative to malign actors who treat economics and development as a means of control.
While the Press Release did not mention China, SCMP says many analysts think this refers to China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, sometimes referred to as debt-trap diplomacy.
The western community accuses Beijing of “financing” major infrastructure projects in developing countries such as Sri Lanka through unsustainable loans. Once these countries fall into a debt trap, China will take the opportunity to gain access to these countries. They assume that, by doing this, Beijing is pursuing its manipulative global strategy.
In a speech at Mansion House in April, Truss warned that Beijing must “play by the rules” or face the consequences like Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in late February.
She also claimed that China needs to trade with the G7 as it represents half of the global economy.
In Truss’s speech, the U.K. has shown Russia the choices they are prepared to make when international rules are violated. And it has shown that they are prepared to prioritize security and respect for sovereignty over short-term economic gain.