Whitehall sources have confirmed reports that the government is considering ways to block China’s participation in future UK nuclear power projects as relations with Beijing deteriorate.
The move could hamper the development of the Sizewell C project in Suffolk, where China-backed China General Nuclear is expected to play a key role.
Negotiations are ongoing between the government and its leading EDF partners.
It is understood that it was a short time before a practical decision was made.
Any decision will also affect the future development of the Bradwell B project in Essex, of which China is a leading developer.
As reported for the first time in the Financial Times, escalating tensions have raised questions about China’s involvement, with the expected expectation that its role – financial and operational – will be minimized.
Understandably, the UK will look to replace China with other partners in any future projects.
The move is likely to escalate tensions between the UK and China and signal the strength of Britain’s stance toward Beijing.
Ministers have strongly condemned Beijing’s harassment of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
China’s involvement in the UK’s nuclear power dates back to an agreement reached by then-prime minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015.
The UK’s Department of Trade, Energy and Industry (BEIS) could not confirm the reports but a spokesman said: “Nuclear power has an important role to play in the future of nuclear power in the UK, as we work towards our global goal. weather in the year 2050.
“All nuclear projects in the UK are carried out under strict and independent law to meet the UK’s strict legal, regulatory and security requirements nationally, to ensure that our interests are protected.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that the UK must “honestly provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies”.
China and the UK have important trade and investment relations, he added.
“It is the desire of both parties to work together in a spirit of mutual benefit and victory,” said Mr Zhao.