China agrees to design and run new UK nuclear power plants despite concerns about national security.

By James Chapman, Daily Mail Political Editor

Published: 18:54 EST, 17 June 2014 | Updated: 19:00 EST, 17 June 2014




Visit: Chinese premier Li Keqiang (right) is said to have demanded to meet the Queen

China is to be allowed to design, own and operate a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain despite concerns about  the implications for national security.

A deal signed yesterday during a visit by China’s premier Li Keqiang will let Chinese state-owned nuclear firms control British power plants if they meet the requirements of regulators.

Mr Li and David Cameron also agreed that the £50billion HS2 high-speed rail project could involve massive Chinese investment. China says it wants to pour money into major UK infrastructure projects and has signed £14billion in trade deals to mark the premier’s three-day visit.

Mr Li is accompanied by dozens of Chinese business leaders eager to discuss investment in areas such as energy where China has faced opposition elsewhere in the world.

The Chinese premier is said to have demanded to meet the Queen although it is relatively unusual for her to receive world leaders who are not heads of state.

Yesterday she welcomed him to Windsor Castle where they were joined by the Duke of York in the White Drawing Room. Later he went to Downing Street for lunch with the Prime Minister and business leaders where he was served a Chinese-themed menu including claypot chicken in a savoury sauce with shiitake mushrooms.

One major deal is expected between BP and China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation worth about £11.8billion over 20 years.

Negotiations to end a Chinese ban on imports of British beef and lamb, imposed in the 1980s during the BSE scandal, are also to take place. The state-owned China Development Bank is expected to invest in HS2 and the next generation of nuclear power stations.

Lucrative: David Cameron and the Chinese premier signed trade deals worth more than £14billion

Chinese firms are already heavily involved in a new £14billion Hinkley C reactor planned for construction in Somerset.

Yesterday, the UK and Chinese governments signed an agreement to co-operate on civil nuclear power that could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to British companies.


A separate agreement stated that Chinese companies could own and operate a Chinese-designed nuclear power station here, if they meet the requirements of the UK’s independent regulator. However, the deal is likely to provoke controversy.

Some experts have warned against giving China a controlling stake in the industry on national security grounds, saying it would leave Britain at the mercy of the communist regime.

Mark Pritchard, a Tory member of Parliament’s national security strategy committee, said: ‘Chinese investment in the UK is very welcome, but we should always consider the national security implications when it comes to critical national infrastructure and sensitive technologies.’

Ministers, however, said investing in nuclear will both diversify the energy mixes of both countries while playing a role in tackling climate change.

The leaders were all smiles outside 10 Downing Street, but critics say the deal could leave Britain vulnerable

The Prime Minister hailed the burgeoning trade links between the two countries, which he said was ‘central’ to the Government’s plan to revitalise the UK’s economy.

Chinese investment into the UK in the last 18 months than in the last 30 years, he added at a press conference in Downing Street.

‘Today we have signed deals worth more than £14 billion, securing jobs and long term economic growth for the British and Chinese people,’ Mr Cameron said.

‘Ours is truly a partnership for growth, reform and innovation. The figures tell the story - bilateral trade at record levels, our exports to China up 15 per cent in 2013, they have more than doubled in the last five years and at a billion a month, they are growing faster than France’s or Germany’s.’

Mr Li yesterday became the latest world leader to line up against Scottish independence when he backed a ‘strong, prosperous and united United Kingdom’.

He said China and the UK should view each other’s economic development 'as an opportunity'.

He added: 'We both believe that we should increase mutual political trust, engage in equal co-operation and accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns to solidify the political foundation of bilateral ties.'


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