The report further says there is growing pressure for Britain to lead the way in urging China to reform its record on animal rights. A senior Minister said: 'We have always known their wildlife markets are a recipe for a pandemic. China needs to close these down immediately. If they don't, they will rightly become a pariah state.'
China also contributed to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) desperately needed by Britain's doctors, nurses and other health professionals. At the height of the epidemic in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province, Chinese leaders commandeered vast amounts of PPE, made in factories across China and destined for export.
UK safety equipment firm JSP had its two factories in China 'requisitioned by the government to make disposable RPE [respiratory protection equipment] for Chinese government agencies', according to a letter its chief executive Mark Johnstone sent to customers on February 3.
In addition, Chinese state-backed operatives working abroad were directed to bulk-buy medical supplies from Western countries. Overseas offices of Greenland Group, a property firm backed by the Chinese government, bought three million masks, 700,000 hazmat suits and 500,000 pairs of gloves as it 'felt compelled… to assist in efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, which had caused a shortage of crucial medical supplies in China,' according to a company newsletter seen by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Ironically – and for critics, cynically – China has now started to donate masks and other equipment to other countries. Bank of China has sent 200,000 PPE items to Ireland and Chinese tycoon Jack Ma has given test kit, masks and other supplies to 54 African nations.
Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said: 'Beijing is masking the greatest health emergency in a century and the cost of this deceit is global.'