The Government is under growing pressure to act over claims the virus was created by scientists in outbreak city Wuhan before being covered up by senior officials in Beijing.
Dominic Raab recently warned China that it will not be “business as usual” between the countries once the pandemic is beaten.
A poll last week revealed 41 per cent of Brits want a tougher stance taken against China following the crisis, as do a number of MPs. But Tory David Morris said: “We can’t abandon all our ties with them. Like it or not, they are a superpower. Billions of pounds can flood into this country from Chinese investment and help rebuild the UK as we come out of the pandemic.
“But we can’t allow the scale of their investment in this country to stop us demanding a full probe into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak.”
REGIME BEHAVING IN ‘EVIL MANNER’
Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson described China’s behaviour over coronavirus as “disgraceful”.
He added: “Their actions may have led to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. Covid-19 was rife there as early as November. They didn’t tell the world authorities and then persecuted and clamped down on their own whistle-blowers and doctors.
“As late as mid-January, they were denying there was human exchange of Covid-19. There has to be a total re-think of our relations with a regime that behaves in such an evil manner.”
Financial experts argue that a trade deal with Beijing is vital for the success of the UK after Brexit is finalised.
Former PM David Cameron had spoken of a “golden era” between the two in 2015 after he was filmed in a pub with Xi Jinping during a state visit by China’s president to the UK.
We can reveal that China’s vast financial power is now worth more than £100billion to the British economy.
Of this, £43billion has been invested by the Chinese since 2000. The figure dwarfs the amount it has invested in other European countries and is more than double that received by Germany — the next biggest beneficiary after the UK.
The Chinese government has allowed the communist state to take key stakes in major British companies. These include Thames Water, Heathrow Airport, Pizza Express and the firm which manufactures London’s black cabs.
A Chinese firm paid £1.3billion for one of Britain’s tallest skyscrapers, 20 Fenchurch Street — known as the Walkie Talkie building — in the City of London.
Chinese giant Gingko Tree Investment even has a joint venture with the Crown Estate, the property arm of the Queen. They jointly own the £345million Fosse Park shopping centre in Leicester, which is expected to create thousands of new jobs following its redevelopment.
Money from China, the world’s second-largest economy after the US, has also flooded into the Premier League.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are owned by leisure company Fosun, whose chairman Guo Guangchang is worth £4.5billion.
Tycoon Gao Jisheng paid £210million for Southampton in 2017.
In addition to this huge spending spree, the most successful 800 Chinese firms operating in the UK have annual revenues of £91billion.
Britain also imports goods worth £45billion a year from China, more than three times the level in 2000.
We exported £23billion worth of goods to China last year — making it our fifth biggest international market, up 21 places since 1999. Former Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham said: “My colleagues have every right to be concerned about how China handled coronavirus. But we have to be pragmatic and I’m sure the Prime Minister will be just that.
“China pumps in billions of pounds into the UK economy and we can’t turn our backs on that.
“The key priority is to get the economy moving.
“We simply cannot ignore China or shun their investment.”
HANDING CHINESE THE ABILITY TO ‘CRIPPLE’ OUR NETWORKS
Shortly before the Covid-19 outbreak, PM Mr Johnson sparked uproar by clearing a deal for China’s Huawei to build part of the UK’s 5G mobile phone network.
Senior MPs claim that the agreement should be scrapped over fears that the technology giant is linked to the Beijing government. They argue that Huawei could breach Britain’s security — handing the Chinese the ability to cripple our networks.
Professor Kerry Brown, a China expert based at King’s College London, warned: “For smartphone, laptops and anything related to 5G technology, chances are that part, or all, of the products popular in the UK will come from China.
“In the 1980s, China was still a small player. It is now far too late to turn back. The price of wanting China out of our lives would be akin to economic suicide.”
TOUGH DECISIONS FOR THE PM
Foreign affairs expert Tim Sumners, from the Chatham House think tank, said: “Like it or not, China is a major power.
“Its companies are going to produce technologies and products of the future at affordable prices. Britain should position itself to take advantage of this. There are many British interests at stake.
“Starting a new Cold War is not going to help achieve them.”
Analysts say Mr Johnson will face some tough decisions given the strength of anti-China feeling at home and further afield.
Donald Trump claims the US has evidence that the coronavirus outbreak began in a laboratory in the Chinese province of Wuhan.
The US President also accused the World Health Organisation of aiding Beijing in covering up the spread. And Australia’s PM Scott Morrison has written to Mr Johnson demanding an independent international inquiry into Covid-19. No 10 has yet to respond.