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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid