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)

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

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.
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.
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