The UK’s need for Beijing’s nuclear tech causes concern around Chinese exports

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Experts express new concerns over Britain’s nuclear sector this week, as it’s believed the UK is at risk of losing support from China if nuclear partnerships such as Hinkley Point C are scrapped over security concerns.

China’s ambitions for exporting nuclear reactor technology to Britain is generating anxiety around the country’s involvement in sensitive UK infrastructure.

In recent months, CGN’s participation in the UK’s nuclear power generation programme has come under scrutiny in both the US and Europe.

US secretary of state, Christopher Ashley Ford, has even warned the UK explicitly not to partner with CGN, citing that the US has evidence that the firm was engaged in taking civilian technology and passing this on to the military.

Despite these concerns, agreements were made during David Cameron’s years of office requiring nuclear projects to be “developer-led”, making it difficult for the UK to revert.

“Of course the state can always pull the plug if it really wants to,” said a consultant involved in the process. “But having laid out a path for the Chinese to follow, it would have big consequences for the relationship if it then changed the rules using security as some sort of figleaf. Beijing would justifiably see it as an act of bad faith.”

According to a historic government adviser, the policy was particularly-supported by the then chancellor George Osborne. “George just swept the security considerations aside,” the adviser said. “His line was: ‘They are going to do it [spy] anyway so we might as well get the investment’.” George Osborne has since denied these allegations.

 

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