Chancellor says UK needs 'eyes wide open relationship with China

7 August 2020, 16:19

The Chancellor refuses to rule out a U-turn on the involvement of China in the building of the Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex.

Tom Swarbrick asked Chancellor Rishi Sunak if the Government would still allow a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company to build a nuclear power plant at Bradwell, in Essex.

Rishi Sunak said the Government's position hasn't changed adding "decisions haven't been made" for the project.

The Chancellor said the Business Secretary would be the lead minister on this issue and he thought a paper would be published on it in Autumn.

When LBC host Tom asked if the Chancellor thought Chinese president Xi Jinping was a "reliable partner," Mr Sunak said he thought the UK should have an "eyes wide open relationship with China."

He added the country was "obviously important to us in many ways" for supply of goods and as a trading partner.

But, the senior Minister said, "we should be eyes wide open where we have different values and interests and we should be robust in standing up for those things."

The Chancellor cited Huawei as an example of the Government taking "quite strong, and significant action over time."

The deal Tom was asking about would be the UK’s first Chinese designed nuclear reactor which moved a step closer to approval in 2016 when the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation said the Chinese HPR1000 reactor has passed the second stage of the approval process.

The new Chinese HPR1000 reactor will be built, pending certification, by a joint French/Chinese consortium at Bradwell.

The consortium is made-up of EDF from France and China General Nuclear Power Corporation, who together have formed General Nuclear Services (GNS).

CGN intends to make a number of investments in Britain’s nuclear power sector, most notably the new Hinkley Point C project in southwest England.

This development will form the first step of a broad investment by the Chinese and French firms in the UK nuclear power system.

But it comes at a time of escalating tensions between China and the West with Beijing and Washington engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war, and Beijing and London embroiled in disagreement.

Just two weeks ago Beijing's ambassador to London Liu Xiaoming said the UK was at a "critical historical juncture" in how it wanted to treat China.

Disputes between the UK and China over Hong Kong, tech giant Huawei and human rights abuses in Xinjiang have "seriously poisoned" relations between the two countries he said.