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Chinese say Hinkley a litmus test of trust

Hinkley Point C

China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom has said relations between the two countries are at a ‘historical juncture’ over the £18bn Hinkley Point C project.

Last month the board of EDF Energy in France gave the long-awaited green light for the project, which is the China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) has a 33.5% stake. However just as the parties were expecting to sign the agreements, the UK government unexpectedly announced a review. Reports said one of the reasons was Prime Minister Theresa May’s concerns about China’s involvement in such a high-security project,

Now, in an article in the Financial Times, ambassador Liu Xiaoming, has sought to address security concerns and calls for a quick decision, warning the situation puts relations between the two countries at risk.

In terms of security, he wrote: “The UK has a state of the art supervision regime and legal system. Its regulatory authorities are experienced and adequately resourced to ensure the safety of nuclear plants. China likewise has a fine record of 30 years of safe operation of nuclear facilities. Its nuclear energy programme and supervision are highly acknowledged by international agencies. The three Hinkley Point partners are members of the International Atomic Energy Agency. So, the French and Chinese partners are subjecting themselves to both international and British standards.”

He then goes on to warn: “If Britain’s openness is a condition for bilateral co-operation, then mutual trust is the very foundation on which this is built.

“Right now, the China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture. Mutual trust should be treasured even more. I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point — and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly.”


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