Tory rebels have vowed to fight government plans for a Chinese-designed nuclear power station. Fresh from their victory in seeing Huawei banned from Britain’s 5G mobile network, senior backbenchers say their next target will be to halt Beijing’s growing involvement in the UK’s nuclear industry. The flashpoint will be a new power plant in Bradwell, Essex, which under current plans is to be designed by China General Nuclear Power Corporation, a company linked to the Beijing government. It comes just days after Boris Johnson was forced into a humiliating U-turn and announced the Government would block Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s involvement in the development of Britain’s 5G mobile systems. Beijing has vowed retaliation for the move, which comes after years in which relations between the UK and China have become much closer. The U-turn was pushed upon the Prime Minister by growing opposition on the Tory benches in the Commons, led by Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee. He set up the China Research Group, a group of about 50 Tory MPs who raised concerns over Huawei. Mr Tugendhat told Bloomberg that the MPs were now turning their fire on plans to build Chinese nuclear power stations in the UK. Critics are concerned about Bradwell because it has a design which is different from the Chinese-funded nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Brinkwire 19th July 2020 read more »
Tory hawks press button on nuclear power battle with China.
FT 21st July 2020 read more »
Energy dependency is an area of concern. China has used Britain to showboat its engineering prowess. It is partnering with France’s EDF to fund a third of the £22bn Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset, and could yet buy a 20% stake in Sizewell B in Suffolk. It is also set to build the Bradwell-on-Sea plant in Essex. Zheng Dongshan, UK chief executive of the China General Nuclear Power Group, is understood to have pressed the business minister, Nadhim Zahawi, for clarity on British nuclear strategy. He is said to have warned that the company could pull further funding, which could threaten Britain’s electricity supply.
Times 19th July 2020 read more »
After Huawei, the Nuclear Question Looms Large for China-UK Relations. Planned Chinese investment in the British nuclear sector is the next big sticking point for London and Beijing. China has promised “necessary measures” to respond to the U.K. decision. In what could be seen as a veiled jab at the U.K., Beijing has recommitted to its pursuit of liberalizing markets in a recent letter to global business leaders, requesting that they “uphold the concept of win-win and joint development.” Notwithstanding backbench pressure to re-evaluate Chinese involvement in the U.K. nuclear sector, this age of “wolf warrior diplomacy” indicates that the U.K. will also have to consider the risk of China retaliating by pulling out of nuclear projects. For Hinkley and Sizewell, this would require the government to find an investor at short-notice or take a stake themselves, and it would jeopardize Bradwell B entirely. With Hitachi already having suspended a nuclear plant at Wylfa due to a spiraling budget, the falling costs of renewables, and the importance of guaranteeing jobs and the future energy security of the country, the government has a careful balancing act ahead.
The Diplomat 20th July 2020 read more »
Is Britain prepared to go nuclear over China? Beijing’s billions are helping to build Hinkley Point, with it as a minor partner, but its ambition for Bradwell generates more concern. A great deal depends on how much further the Government is prepared to go in curtailing trade and business ties with the world’s second superpower. But what about the assertion that the loss of Chinese investment would somehow imperil the UK economy? The Government has spent a decade courting China, and as a result, it has become a significant trading partner. Thanks to the UK’s ineptitude at building its own critical infrastructure, China is at the heart of plans to build three nuclear plants on UK soil. Sizewell C, the project planned for the Suffolk coast, is now being referred to as “the next Huawei” in government but China’s CGN is only a junior partner in that, providing 20pc of the funds, alongside France’s EDF. It’s the same arrangement the pair came to on Hinkley Point C in Somerset. But Chinese money is different to Chinese technology. If China wants to bankroll big projects, then let it. Being a minority investment partner isn’t the same as wanting to build a nuclear plant 50 miles from London using an unproved Chinese reactor. That’s the quid pro quo on Hinkley and Sizewell: letting them build and operate Bradwell in Essex using their own untested technology.
Telegraph 20th July 2020 read more »