Why UK must put North’s needs before those of China – Imran Ahmad Khan

THE United Kingdom is gripped by a pandemic which has transformed both the state and the lives of its citizens, and redefined the relationship between the two.

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus holds a dog as he stands along a pedestrian shopping street in Beijing as calls are made to reset UK relations with China.

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Much is being done to end this 
national emergency. Yet, this crisis provides an opportunity to reposition and reset our relationship with China, determining our future place on the global stage.

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Credible voices claim that the Chinese Communist Party has, again, demonstrated itself to be neglectful, not only of its own citizens, but to those of other sovereign states.

Imran Ahmad Khan is the Conservative MP for Wakefield.

Over the last 20 years the world has suffered dangerous pandemics, many of which share a common source: the Chinese supply chain.

The 2002-2004 SARS outbreak infected 8,000 people, claiming 774 lives across 29 states and territories. It originated in the Guangdong province of China.

Health, food and hygiene security is of critical importance for every individual, yet the Chinese government’s policies relating to wild animals and the human and food supply chain demonstrate the little regard it has paid to it.

Chinese quarantine measures, the tracking of cases and subterfuge for fear of reputational damage contributed to the spreading of coronavirus rather than limiting it.

Clerks wear face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus as they wait for customers at the entrance to a restaurant in Beijing.

This pandemic is yet another item in a long list of CCP cover-ups, secrecy, intrigue and delay, all of which have cost tens of thousands of lives. The scale of damage, pain, grief and loss caused by this pandemic need never to have happened.

A combination of the West’s short-sighted support and Beijing’s far-sighted strategic planning has rewarded China. It is now the largest exporter in the world and the coronavirus crisis merely confirms our poverty of understanding of, and control over, the global Sino-centric supply chain.

The UK and her allies should not prop up a trade system that promotes a country which is systemically corrupt and illiberal. Present circumstances, although difficult, provide us with the opportunity to establish the UK as a major supplier of trusted, safe, high-quality goods and services to our friends and allies in the Commonwealth and wider world.

The Government has embarked on an unprecedented spending programme in an effort to mitigate the damage that this pandemic will have on our lives and livelihoods.

If the response necessitates the Government becoming larger, its powers should be harnessed to direct and deliver a long-term strategy in which business and commerce can flourish – and steer the UK towards becoming a significant goods and services exporter in the western world.

This would require the creation of new infrastructure and networks with an entirely strategic agenda, namely taking back control of our supply chain and returning it to regions such as the North of England.

Executing this project will help Britain bounce back from the economic hurts inflicted upon it by the virus and permit us to once more pick up our neglected mantle, belonging to a confident, independent and dependable major trading nation that employs its commercial and cultural heft to the advantage of its citizens and freedom loving people everywhere.

Some nations will struggle with reviving and recovering their economies after this pandemic, but reconfiguring as much of the global supply chain as we can in the North, indeed throughout our country, will enable the United Kingdom’s economy and prestige to recover and develop.

Encouraging the return of technical, manufacturing and industrial strength to regions such as Yorkshire and the North East, to sit alongside our famed financial, legal and new media service sectors, through a government package designed to improve our infrastructure and industrial capacity, will not only level up the North but raise the whole United Kingdom.

Asserting ourselves as a global exporter and ending our reliance upon the Sino-centric supply chain would also entail many security benefits. There is risk with trusting the Chinese Communist Party with our supply chains, as evident not only with our current crisis, but with the vulnerabilities to our national security and intellectual property presented by the plans for Huawei 5G network.

It is, precisely now, at this time of 
grave crisis that we must plan, not only for our economic recovery from the Covid-19 shock, but to prepare the mechanisms and pathways by which 
the United Kingdom will reposition 
and redefine itself as a leading global exporter of manufacturing and services, a powerful advocate for liberty and a friend to business. Britain needs to step up and answer this call.

Imran Ahmad Khan is the 
Conservative MP for Wakefield.

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