While we need to be concerned about China’s growing presence in Britain’s electricity generation (Nuclear power: China’s move into UK hints at scale of its wider ambitions, July 27), we should be asking searching questions of our government. They seem not to understand (or don’t care about) the nature of the companies they are dealing with.
Chinese state-owned enterprises are not like EDF or the German, Dutch and French state-owned firms that run our railways. They are dramatically different because China is governed by a Leninist state. Consequently, Chinese state firms are ultimately controlled not by the State Council’s State Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, but by the Communist party.
Furthermore, one of the two Chinese companies initially involved in the Hinkley Point plant, China National Nuclear (CNNC), while having a civil division, is mainly involved in the production of the country’s nuclear weapons. Consequently, it is almost certainly controlled by the Chinese military: the People’s Liberation Army.
With Chinese companies set to take the lead role at Bradwell and Sizewell (including building the reactors and running the stations) and, given EDF’s financial problems, a controlling stake in up to five other nuclear power plants, the British government is setting us up for a situation where the Chinese Communist party – and, assuming CNNC participation, the Chinese military – will have a decisive role in one of our most strategically important industries. To allow this borders on insanity and clearly has to be stopped.
Professor of international development, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol
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