Andy Blowers considers whether the ‘golden relationship’ with China might be a Trojan Horse in the BANNG Column for Regional Life March 2019. The state visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, in October 2015 proclaimed the beginning of a ‘golden era’ in Sino-British relations. The deal was sealed with the promise that China would be offered the opportunity to construct a new nuclear power station at Bradwell with a state-owned company, CGN, using its own technology. In return the Chinese would provide the lion’s share (two-thirds) of investment in the project, with its partner the French state backed-company EDF finding the rest. The jubilation of the Cameron Government turned to scepticism when his successor’s Joint Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, declared, ‘The Government is selling our national security to China’. Fears that a critical part of sensitive infrastructure could be open to control by a potentially hostile power have continued to cloud the project. The fact that China, like the UK, is a military as well as civil nuclear power makes the issue of security and control especially worrying. Concerns about security threats are not without foundation. There is the broad charge that China plays by its own rules and the United States has long claimed that China has stolen American atomic secrets. Recently there have been concerns in the United States and other countries about the merger of state and commercial interests implied by Chinese technology giant Huawei’s capability to engage in cyber espionage. In the UK the enthusiasm for the Government for commercial partnership with China (as in the Bradwell deal) is matched by the deep suspicion of the security experts who, according to Nick Timothy, believe the intelligence services of China continue to work against UK interests at home and abroad. The Chinese are intent on accelerating the Bradwell B programme to begin construction before the end of the next decade. That is a tall order but they have the resources and apparent determination. But, the risks to national and local security and safety from a nuclear power station constructed and controlled by a foreign power cannot easily be allayed. Despite all the soothing words and promises of energy security, Bradwell B, if it materialises, may be a dangerous and unpredictable cuckoo in the nest.
BANNG 21st March 2019 read more »