22.05.2020 | Boris Johnson could stop Chinese imports as COVID-19 ravages world economy
Source - The Daily Express
Mr Johnson instructed civil servants to end Britain's reliance on China for both medical and strategic imports in light of the coronavirus outbreak, The Times newspaper reported on Friday. The plans, which have been code named "Project Defend", aim to identify Britain’s main economic vulnerabilities to potentially hostile foreign governments as part of a broader new approach to national security, according to reports.
Efforts are reportedly being led by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to ensure Britain is protected.
The Foreign Secretary, could lead to the government supporting the “repatriation” of key manufacturing capabilities such as pharmaceuticals as part of a new national resilience framework.
It is also reportedly looking at supply chain issues where critical UK businesses rely on components from abroad to make finished products.
Two working groups have been set up as part of the project, according to the report.
One source told The Times that the aim of project defend was to diversify supply lines to no longer depend on individual countries for non-food essentials.
The Prime Minister told lawmakers he would take steps to protect Britain’s technological base.
The government review is also expected to include personal protective equipment and drugs, the report added.
The development comes as Beijing has been tackling mounting international criticism over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China before spreading to the rest of the world.
Conservative PMs have also been urging the PM not to allow Huawei to build Britain's 5G networks.
Yesterday, following Conservative MP Richard Drax 's questions to urge Johnson to copy France's review of defence supply chains because of concerns China is buying up companies at risk of going bust during the pandemic.
Mr Johnson told the Commons: "Drax is absolutely right to be concerned about investment, to be concerned about the buying up of UK technology by countries that ... may have ulterior motives."
A coalition of 122 countries are now supporting Australia's call for an independent probe to investigate the causes of the coronavirus pandemic that started in Wuhan, China.
But, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has felt the wrath of Beijing.
China has now threatened to decimate Australia's economy unless the inquiry initiative is dropped.