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On the final day of his trade visit to China, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has announced that Chinese companies will be allowed to buy a stake in, or own 100%, of new nuclear power plants to be built in Great Britain, giving the People’s Republic a potentially huge role to play in the development of the British nuclear power industry.
“Today is another demonstration of the next big step in the relationship between Britain and China – the world's oldest civil nuclear power and the world's fastest growing civil nuclear power.
It means the potential of more investment and jobs in Britain, and lower long-term energy costs for consumers.”
The agreement, as well as encouraging Chinese investment in UK nuclear power plants, will also ensure that British companies, such as Rolls-Royce, International Nuclear Services, and Mott MacDonald, play a part in China’s multibillion dollar nuclear expansion.
Related article: California’s Nuclear Headache is Only Just Beginning
The Guardian writes that it is surprising that Osborne, a man keen on securing the defence of UK national sovereignty against Europeans, is so enthusiastic about opening up and handing over the country’s critical infrastructure to Chinese companies. If all of the memorandums of understanding signed by the two countries actually come to pass, then China would control important stakes in British water, airports, IT infrastructure, and nuclear power sectors.
The Chinese will be fully aware that the UK is a country driven to ruin by the financial crisis, and that its thirst for large infrastructure projects offer a great opportunity to make secure investments for the future. Chinese companies, and the state, have huge amounts of cash which they are looking to invest in profitable projects around the world, and the UK is offering itself as a prime candidate to receive that investment.
China also hopes that investment in the British nuclear industry will give it more power and more credibility in the global nuclear market, as its growing domestic market develops the potential to turn China into the world’s largest nuclear exporter.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com