Boris Johnson Moves to End UK Reliance on Chinese Imports
British prime minister seeks to take back control of the global economy from China
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instructed government officials to draw up a plan to end the UK's reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other imported Chinese goods.
PM Johnson is seeking to take back control of the supply chain from the Communist Party of China (CPC) after the Chinese coronavirus outbreak has savaged economies across the globe.
According to a Friday report in The Times newspaper, the plans - code-named "Project Defend" - seek to identify Britain’s main economic vulnerabilities to potentially hostile foreign governments such as China.
The move is said to be part of a broader new approach to national security, according to the report.
The efforts to ensure Britain is protected are reportedly being led by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Raab's plan could lead to the government supporting the “repatriation” of key manufacturing capabilities, such as pharmaceuticals, as part of a new national resilience framework.
Two working groups have been set up as part of the project, according to the report, with one source telling The Times that the aim was to diversify supply lines to no longer depend on individual countries for non-food essentials.
Johnson told lawmakers he would take steps to protect Britain's technological base, with the government review also expected to include personal protective equipment and drugs, the report added.
The UK is strategically dependent on China for a number of critical goods.
These include pharmaceutical ingredients needed to produce painkillers, antibiotics, and antiviral drugs.
Britain relies on China for 50 percent of these supplies.
Other important goods are industrial chemicals, metals, and electronics.
It comes after President Macron of France and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, called on Monday for greater EU sovereignty on key goods including medical products.
A UK Government spokesperson told The Times: “The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the importance of resilient supply chains to ensure the continued flow of essential items and keep global trade moving.
"That’s why we’re looking at what steps we can take to ensure we have diverse supply chains in place, to avoid shortages in the event of a future crisis.”
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.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump stepped up his attack on China over the virus.
Trump appeared to blame Chinese President Xi Jinping for a campaign of "disinformation" that has helped spread COVID-19 around the world.
The virus first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December and spread rapidly around the world, killing more than 320,000 people, and triggering huge economic damage.