WHILE the world suffers from this pandemic, China continues to manoeuvre.

This week, evidence was given to the Defence Select Committee, on which I sit, that China is buying up French defence companies which have gone bust during the outbreak.

Naturally, France has ordered an urgent root and branch review, blocking all sales of defence assets.

Following up on this, I asked the Prime Minister at Wednesday’s PMQs for his assurance that the same will not happen here, especially in view of current plans to allow Huawei to roll out our all-important 5G network.

There is genuine concern that, were we to go ahead, it would severely impact our key ‘Five Eyes intelligence relationship with Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the US.

They ask why we are the only one of the five that is considering risking our national security with a company which is, in effect, an arm of the Chinese state.

Regrettably, the truth is that China’s influence and technology are everywhere, not least in the UK.

Pulling back means costly trade wars and worse, as the USA and now Australia have learned.

Only hours after demanding an “impartial, independent and comprehensive” investigation into the origins and handling of Covid-19, China had slapped an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley sales, with crucial beef and wool exports also threatened.

Interestingly, the draft resolution, which is supported by 122 members of the World Health Assembly, doesn’t even mention China.

But, that has not prevented the Chinese government describing the enquiry as a “political manoeuvre” and refusing to support it until the pandemic is under control.

When that time comes, and it will, the West, certainly, must review its relationship with China, whose future ambitions do not match ours.