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

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8691
    JPY
    USD
    106.57
    GBP
    USD
    0.6891
    CAD
    USD
    1.2750
    INR
    USD
    66.589

    Rates may not be current.