The UK has opened the way for the first Chinese-designed nuclear power plant in the west, saying Beijing could use Britain to launch a global rollout of its technology. Amber Rudd, energy secretary, said she wanted Beijing to take the lead in developing new nuclear plants in Britain. She said China was expected to lead the construction of a Beijing-designed nuclear power plant in Essex, in eastern England, its first in the west, under a proposed joint deal with EDF, the French energy group, to build a new generation of UK reactors. “They very much want to have their design up and running in the UK,” she told the Financial Times on a visit to Beijing. “That’s because we have such tough standards of regulation everyone can have confidence they are safe and show that they have a great operation to take elsewhere.” Her comments came as chancellor George Osborne announced during the same visit an initial £2bn government guarantee for the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in south-west England in an attempt to boost the much delayed project, which has major Chinese backing. Mr Osborne said the £24.5bn project, to be built by EDF to a French design in partnership with two Chinese companies, would “open the door to unprecedented co-operation” between the UK and China on more nuclear stations.