News / Asia

    China Resumes Nuclear Power Plant Construction

    A general view of a Daya Bay nuclear power station at Daya Bay in China's southern city of Huizhou in Guangdong province  March 16, 2011.
    A general view of a Daya Bay nuclear power station at Daya Bay in China's southern city of Huizhou in Guangdong province March 16, 2011.
    VOA News
    China says its energy consumption has been growing too quickly in recent years, putting a strain on the country's energy supply as well as on the environment.

    “Fossil energy resources have been exploited on a large scale, causing a certain amount of damage to the eco-environment,” reads a statment in the White Paper on China's Energy Policy released Wednesday by the country's Cabinet.

    To create an energy industry that is “secure, stable and clean,” the statement says authorities are ending a ban on new nuclear plants, encouraging more private investment in the energy sector, and developing more sustainable-energy technology.

    Zhou Xizhou, who heads the China team of the Cambridge Energy Research Associates, says the government's energy policy faces major obstacles. “They have to find enough supply to meet the future demand, because of how fast the demand is growing,” he says.  Zhou adds that reducing the country’s heavy dependence on coal and diversifying its energy resources will be a big challenge.

    The “white paper” statement was released before November’s once-in-a-decade leadership reshuffle, when a new group of senior officials is expected to announce policy changes.

    China, which is the world's biggest consumer and producer of energy, relies mostly on heavily polluting coal, as well as oil imports for energy production.

    But as the center of global manufacturing, the country has been trying to improve energy efficiency and improve sustainable, domestic energy sources. That includes more nuclear power, which makes up just 1.8 percent of the country's total energy production.

    China's State Council decided Wednesday to resume construction of “a small number” of new nuclear power plants, after a suspension following Fukushima's disaster in March 2011.

    This week's decision shows that, although concerned with safety, leaders in Beijing believe China's energy development cannot be sustained without tapping into nuclear energy.

    Yang Fuqiang, senior advisor on energy, environment and climate change at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Beijing, says the safety guidelines governing nuclear plant construction have been greatly strengthened since the Fukushima disaster.

    He says the new measures are reassuring, but the government could still go further in ensuring the plants’ safety.

    “It was definitely correct to highlight nuclear safety,” Yang says. “But we also think that it is very important to establish a professional, effective management system for nuclear power that is managed by the central government.  This was not mentioned by the China policy on energy in 2012.”

    Wednesday's white paper also pushed for a restructuring of the energy industry now dominated by state-owned enterprises.

    “The Chinese government encourages private capital to participate in the exploration and development of energy resources, oil- and natural-gas-pipeline network construction and the electric-power industry,” the document says.

    “The energy sector is still backwards, when compared to other sectors in China,” says Yang Fuqiang. “In recent years reform in the energy sector has pretty much come to a halt, the pace of reform has been very slow and price has not substantially changed.”

    Wednesday's documents said that “proactive efforts will be made in the pricing mechanism of electricity to gradually let the market decide the price of electricity.”
    Yang believes by removing price caps and making it easier for private companies to enter the energy sector, there will be a greater effort toward creating energy efficiency and making technological innovations.

    After becoming the world's biggest carbon-dioxide emitter, China has committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 45 percent by 2020.

    Although coal is set to remain Beijing's main power source, this week's policy paper projects that energy produced by other renewable sources, like nuclear, solar and wind, will increase to 30 percent in the next three years.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora