Ministers may buy a stake in the Sizewell C nuclear power plant amid concerns about the involvement of China's nuclear energy company in key British infrastructure projects, it emerged last night.
The Government is deciding whether to buy equity in the project or invite outside investment.
The discussions have been prompted by security fears over the involvement of China General Nuclear (CGN) in plans to build the £20billion power plant.
Concerns are also growing about China's approach to human rights following a major clampdown in Hong Kong and treatment of Uighur minorities in Xinjiang province, along with the country's handling of Covid-19.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said last year the UK could no longer conduct 'business as usual' with Beijing.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
It follows the decision to force Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei out of Britain's 5G network. But any move to limit China's role in nuclear energy is likely to provoke further tension.
Ministers may buy a stake in the Sizewell C nuclear power plant amid concerns about the involvement of China's nuclear energy company in key British infrastructure projects. Pictured: How the Sizewell C plant will look
Funding talks for the Sizewell plant in Suffolk are said to be ongoing with EDF, the main company involved in the plans, but sources said all options remain on the table.
Whitehall sources yesterday confirmed reports that the Government is exploring ways of removing CGN from future nuclear infrastructure projects.
It is understood that ministers are considering whether to buy an equity stake in Sizewell C, or find alternative investors.
Ministers could also block the involvement of CGN in future projects such as plans for a nuclear power plant at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex, according to the Financial Times.
China's involvement in UK atomic energy dates back to an agreement between then prime minister David Cameron and Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2015. The deal envisaged that CGN would become a 20 per cent partner in the development of Sizewell C, with an option to participate in its construction.
It also agreed Chinese investment in the Hinkley Point C nuclear power facility, which is being built in Somerset.
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said last year the UK could no longer conduct 'business as usual' with Beijing
CGN also became the lead developer of the proposed Bradwell B plant in Essex, in which it plans to install its own reactor technology.
This design has not yet been approved, but sources told the FT that the Chinese plans to build the plant on the coast just 30 miles from London were now a non-starter. 'There isn't a chance in hell that CGN builds Bradwell,' a source said, adding: 'Given the approach we've seen to Huawei, [Downing Street] aren't going to be letting a Chinese company build a new nuclear power station.'
It comes as many of the UK's key allies in the US and Europe look to minimise the involvement of Chinese state-owned companies in their infrastructure. The US put CGN on an export blacklist in 2019, alleging it had stolen US technology for military purposes, while the Trump