The Prime Minister has reportedly told officials he wants China’s involvement in UK infrastructure to be reduced to zero in the next three years.
It comes after a backlash within the Conservative party over Chinese investment following the pandemic which broke out in Wuhan, in the province of Hubei.
China has come under widespread criticism for its handling of the crisis with Beijing officials accused of covering up the initial scale of infection.
Boris Johnson (right) is set to scale down Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network due to China’s controversial handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Left: China’s president Xi Jinping
Chinese hackers have also been suspected of breaking into American research on Covid-19.
Tory MPs have urged caution over the ‘rushed’ Huawei deal which was brokered under Theresa May’s administration but signed off by Mr Johnson in January.
An insider source told the Daily Telegraph the Prime Minister still wants to maintain a relationship with China but would like the Huawei deal to be scaled back ‘as quickly as possible’.
The deal as it stands allows Huawei to build 35 per cent of Britain’s 5G network.
It comes as Britain is to begin weaning itself off reliance on China for vital medical supplies and other goods.
Boris Johnson has ordered civil servants to draw up a plan, code-named Project Defend, to beef up the UK’s national security resistance to Beijing amid fury at the lack of warning it gave others of the outbreak.
Tory MPs have urged caution over the ‘rushed’ Huawei deal which was brokered under Theresa May’s administration but signed off by Mr Johnson in January (stock image)
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will lead the scheme which includes identifying Britain’s main economic vulnerabilities to potentially hostile foreign governments, according to The Times.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the importance of resilient supply chains to ensure the continued flow of essential items and keep global trade moving.
‘What we’re looking at is what steps we can take to ensure that we have diverse supply chains in place to avoid shortages in the event of a future crisis.’
Department for International Trade permanent secretary Antonia Romeo is running the cross-Government project and reporting to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the PM’s behalf, the spokesman said.
An insider source told the Daily Telegraph the Prime Minister still wants to maintain a relationship with China but would like the Huawei deal to be scaled back ‘as quickly as possible’ (stock image)
Mr Johnson is preparing to visit the US for the G7 summit next month in his first trip since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
He is expected to ramp up trade talks with Donald Trump after calling for the UK to become less reliant on China and the EU for goods.
President Trump has previously been critical of the UK’s decision to allow China’s involvement in its 5G network.
He threatened to restrict Britain’s access to Five Eyes intelligence – information shared between the US, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada – in backlash to the partnership.