A source said: ‘There is a disgusting disinformation campaign going on and it is unacceptable. They [the Chinese government] know they have got this badly wrong and rather than owning it they are spreading lies.’
Mr Johnson has been warned by scientific advisers that China’s officially declared statistics on the number of cases of coronavirus could be ‘downplayed by a factor of 15 to 40 times’. And No 10 believes China is seeking to build its economic power during the pandemic with ‘predatory offers of help’ countries around the world.
A major review of British foreign policy has been shelved due to the Covid-19 outbreak and will not report until the impact of the virus can be assessed. A Government source close to the review said: ‘It is going to be back to the diplomatic drawing board after this. Rethink is an understatement.’