World News

China's Nuclear Energy Industry Gets Boost from Britain

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 told VOA, 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."


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."


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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs