News / Economy

China's Nuclear Energy Industry Gets Boost from Britain

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (l) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) Chairman Jiang Jianqing during his visit to the ICBC headquarters in Beijing, Oct. 15, 2013.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (l) and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) Chairman Jiang Jianqing during his visit to the ICBC headquarters in Beijing, Oct. 15, 2013.
China's nuclear energy industry has received a boost in its effort to expand abroad, with Britain saying it will allow Chinese companies to buy majority stakes in British nuclear power plants.

British Finance Minister George Osborne made the announcement Thursday, while visiting a nuclear plant in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

Osborne said Chinese companies will be allowed to invest in British nuclear projects as minority partners initially, before being able to become majority owners. He said any Chinese investment also would have to conform to "very stringent" British safety and security regulations.

Beijing has been accused by some Western governments of using cyber attacks to steal commercial and other secrets - a charge it denies.

Britain has been trying hard to attract foreign investors to help it build a new generation of nuclear power plants. It says those plants would alleviate a growing risk of power shortages in the coming years.

London has been nearing a deal with French energy company EDF to build what will be Britain's first new nuclear plant since 1995.

The Chinese plant visited by Osborne on Thursday is a joint venture between EDF and the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group.

British media said London could finalize a deal with EDF as soon as next week. They said the French company likely will include China General Nuclear as a partner in building the new plant at Hinkley Point in southwest England.

London-based Wall Street Journal political reporter Ainsley Thomson said in a VOA interview, via Skype, that Chinese investment in the British-based plant would suit both countries.

"China wants to make itself appear like it is a trustworthy, good investor. If it gets into the U.K. and it does well, other countries may also open their doors. Obviously, many countries are completely shut off to China investing in [their] critical infrastructure. The U.K. is one of the few Western countries which is not. It is openly saying, 'Come and invest.' So for China, it is a big opportunity. And for the U.K., they want money. The fact that it is Chinese is probably less important (than) the fact that they have got deep pockets and are willing invest," said  Thomson.

China has been seeking new markets for its nuclear technology after focussing for years on its domestic industry, which operates 17 reactors and is building at least 28 more.

The official China Daily newspaper says Beijing currently has the world's largest number of reactors under construction and has built overseas reactors only in Pakistan so far.

A spokesman for British trade union GMB told VOA there is little domestic opposition to China investing in nuclear power because Chinese companies already control large parts of Britain's natural gas and electricity network.

But, speaking by phone from Brighton, GMB's national secretary for the British energy sector Gary Smith said there is still cause for concern.

"It cannot be right or good for the British people and for the long term future of Britain, to be so dependent on foreign investment in our energy sector. The nuclear industry in the U.K. is now controlled by American companies, by French companies and by the Chinese. We have no strategy around energy and we have no coherent policy and that is why we are reduced to going cap in hand [begging] to foreign investors, absolutely desperate for their money," said Smith.

British Finance Minister Osborne defended London's appeal for Chinese investment in nuclear plants, saying it will free up British taxpayer money for schools and hospitals. He also said it could help to create more jobs and lead to lower long-term energy costs for consumers.

William Gallo contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
October 17, 2013 10:11 AM
Wise move. Welcoming China is the right way to go. Instead of letting China steal techs, west should share all techs. Science and techs are properties belong to all human beings not to few countries or coporates.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7976
JPY
USD
116.28
GBP
USD
0.6353
CAD
USD
1.1655
INR
USD
63.988

Rates may not be current.