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.
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Tensions have been mounting between the US and China, with Donald Trump claiming Bejing has witheld vital information about the coronavirus.
However, some critics claim the catastrophic spread of the virus in the US is due to the Trump administration’s handling of the virus.
This follows a number of headlines over the course of the pandemic that show how furious the both the US and UK is over China’s handling of the novel coronavirus.
UK government officials have been accusing China of spreading disinformation about the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in its borders.
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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.
The need for an inquiry will be voted on by 194 nations at the World Health Assembly on Tuesday.
China has increased its belligerent threats towards Australia with a suggestion they may place a crippling tariff on barley exports.
The wording of the inquiry so far fails to mention China, but the nuances all point to an effort to uncover attempts by Beijing to cover-up the outbreak at the early stages.
The UK has signed up to support the inquiry and British Foreign Office spokesman said: “There will need to be a review into the pandemic, not least so that we can ensure we are better prepared for future global pandemics.
“The resolution at the World Health Assembly is an important step towards this.”
The pandemic has caused world economies to fall into recession, with many questioning why they should repay the sovereign debt they owe China after the disease spread from Wuhan because of Beijing’s lack of transparency.
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