The Personal Protective Equipment crisis and the desperate lack of other critical hospital equipment highlights our need for a greater global industrial independence. As the national demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) heightens, our reliance on countries such as China for trade is brought into sharp perspective.
On Sunday evening, The Guardian reported that a ‘vital shipment of protective equipment, including gowns, has been delayed en route from Turkey’. The equipment – some 84 tonnes, no less – comes from China.
Calling on China shouldn’t be necessary. Michael Gove sheepishly admitted on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘It is the case we have a deal with China to bring some twenty five million gowns over to the UK, in order to make sure that people are kept safe’.
How does Britain, a nation who built an Empire and Industrial Revolution – find itself in such a dire situation? The nation’s manufacturing status must be regained if we are to be a global player once again, standing tall with a sense of of industrial credibility.
In recent years, our relationship with China as a trading partner for imports of essential products has been substantial. According to a House of Commons Library report in November last year, imports from China in 2019 were worth £44.7 billion, as compared with UK exports to China worth £22.6 billion . The Chinese imports chiefly consisted of machinery including computers to our shores.
At a time of growing scepticism associated with the UK’s 5G involvement with Huawei, is it wise or ethical for the government to create more fear in a society already so riddled with uncertainty about many aspects of their everyday lives?
The public are embracing mobile technology now more than ever as a means of precious communication, as it provides an alternative to physical interaction that is essential to human nature. As Stephen Hawking said: ‘’For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. That is communication’.
Emphasising the danger posed by China with regards to hungry Chinese investors including the technology firm Imagination, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘There are Chinese companies that are genuinely independent competing on a level playing field – and that’s fine – but there are companies with clear and strong links to the Chinese state’.
In terms of overseas trade from China, a report by the website WorldExports.com found that in 2019, Asian trade partners supplied 22.2 per cent of import purchases by the UK. Additionally, European countries have benefited largely from our custom, with 41% of the UK’s total imports coming from European Union members.
The vote for Brexit vote was partly fuelled by a a need to escape from Brussels bureaucracy restricting our freedom of industry and trade, towards a more independent future of hope and national self sufficiency. This hunger must inspire our vision for a future on a far wider scale. When we have finally beaten Coronavirus, we must regain some of the industrial stature that the world once stood in awe of.