News / Asia

China Vows to Press Ahead With Nuclear Energy Plans

A special police officer stands guard at the construction site of the Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant in Sanmen, east China's Zhejiang Province (File Photo)
A special police officer stands guard at the construction site of the Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant in Sanmen, east China's Zhejiang Province (File Photo)
TEXT SIZE - +

Chinese leaders are vowing to press ahead with their ambitious nuclear energy plans despite the nuclear crisis in Japan. Experts say nuclear energy is essential because of China’s continually growing energy demands, combined with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

China’s nuclear vision is clear. There are 13 nuclear power reactors in operation in China. The World Nuclear Association last week said China has more than 25 nuclear power reactors under construction, and more about to start construction soon.

Following the disasters in Japan, the official Xinhua News Agency says China is suspending approval for new nuclear plants so that authorities can revise safety standards and do safety checks at existing plants.

But in the only public and official comment so far, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun says China will maintain  its overall nuclear energy policies. He spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, one day after the Japan earthquake.

Zhang says China can learn lessons from Japan, but will not change its plan for developing nuclear-power.

Nuclear power now makes up only about one percent of China’s energy mix, but the recently approved five-year plan includes quadrupling nuclear energy’s share by 2015.

Shi Dinghuan is an energy advisor to the State Council, which is China’s Cabinet. Shi says Japan’s nuclear crisis will draw official Chinese attention to the issue of nuclear safety standards. But he says China will not change its overall policy or strategic direction "just because of a big natural accident in another country."

Shi points out the United States has also announced its policies to pursue nuclear power are not changed.

He advocates greater efforts to expand energy generated from renewable sources, such as wind and the sun.  But he says he believes nuclear power needs to remain in the mix, especially since China’s energy demand will keep increasing as economic growth continues.

Tsinghua University School of Public Policy Associate Professor Wang Haibin is an expert on China’s civilian nuclear industry.

He says there has been a quickening of the pace of nuclear-power development in China in recent years, including an official target of about 70 nuclear reactors in China by 2020.

Wang says if this speed is maintained, he thinks there could be problems with safety at nuclear plants, including problems with construction materials and other preventative measures.

At the same time, he points out that the events in Japan are still unfolding and says he thinks it is possible the Chinese government may still adjust its targets accordingly.

The nuclear facilities being built in China rely on newer technology that officials hope will be safer than the ones in Japan.

China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation Vice President Liu Wei told Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper last week that China can put up nuclear-power facilities faster than in Japan. He said one reason is in China, officials do not encounter opposition from the local communities.

Greenpeace’s Li Yan says she thinks one reason there is little public opposition to nuclear power in China is because Chinese people do not know much about it.

"First of all, energy policies are made in a very top-down approach. It is a very elite discussion and nuclear energy so far is not a big percentage in China, and Chinese people have many more other issues to worry about, especially burning coal and its pollution to water and air," said Li Yan. "And so, at that level, you do not see really hot debate on nuclear as an energy type."

She says there is also a problem in China that the government in the past has been secretive and not readily willing to disclose information.

Nevertheless, the Japanese nuclear disaster is helping to raise Chinese people’s awareness of nuclear power and a debate on the dangers and benefits of nuclear power is beginning on the Internet

Like Japan, China is an earthquake-prone country, and some Chinese expressed their concern a quake could damage a nuclear facility.  Others expressed frustration that, unlike some leaders in Europe, Chinese leaders are not reconsidering their policy of pursuing nuclear power.

At the same time, some Chinese supported nuclear power and echoed the government’s comments that nuclear energy is less polluting than coal or oil.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid