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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8815
JPY
USD
117.85
GBP
USD
0.6581
CAD
USD
1.2420
INR
USD
61.404

Rates may not be current.