Ministers consider blocking China's role in UK nuclear power

Ministers consider blocking China's role in UK nuclear power By Qatar Day - July 26, 2021

Ministers consider blocking China's role in UK nuclear power

Whitehall sources have confirmed reports the government is considering ways to block China's involvement in future UK nuclear power projects as relations with Beijing deteriorate.

The move could affect the development of the Sizewell C project in Suffolk, in which state-backed China General Nuclear is set to play a key role.

Negotiations are continuing between the government and lead partner EDF.

It is understood to be a while before any concrete decision will be taken.

Any decision will also affect the future development of the Bradwell B project in Essex, where China is the lead developer.

As first reported in the Financial Times, rising tensions had raised questions about the involvement of China, with expectations growing that its role - financially and operationally - would be reduced at least.

It is understood that the UK would look to replace China with other partners in any future projects.

The move is likely to inflame tensions between the UK and China and mark a toughening of Britain's stance towards Beijing.

Ministers have been highly critical of Beijing's clampdown on democracy campaigners in Hong Kong and allegations of human rights abuse in Xinjiang.

China's involvement in nuclear power in the UK dates back to an agreement struck by then prime minister David Cameron and Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2015.

The UK's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) would not confirm the reports but a spokesperson said: "Nuclear power has an important role to play in the UK's low-carbon energy future, as we work towards our world-leading target to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050.

"All nuclear projects in the UK are conducted under robust and independent regulation to meet the UK's rigorous legal, regulatory and national security requirements, ensuring our interests are protected."

A spokesperson for China's foreign ministry, Zhao Lijian, said on Monday that the UK should "earnestly provide an open, fair and non discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies".

China and the UK had important trade and investment ties, he added.

"It is in the interests of both sides to conduct practical co-operation in the spirit of mutual benefit and a win-win result," Mr Zhao said.

By Qatar Day - July 26, 2021

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