Saturday, 17 October 2015

China should not be allowed to test its nuclear power plant designs at cost of British safety

Your economics editor  Ben Chu wrote in his Comment welcoming the forthcoming energy and industrial partnerships with China that "China is interested in investing in UK nuclear  because it offers a opportunity to test out a China-designed power station." ("Why we should hold out a friendly hand to China," Independent 17 October,
That is the very reason it should be strongly opposed.
Just before  George Osborne visited Beijing In October 2013 to discuss nuclear financing, the South China Morning Post (7 Oct. 2013) revealed that Chinese nuclear industry veteran Li Yulun,  a former vice-president of CNNC had claimed that company and its United States technology partner Westinghouse should be more transparent about how mainland reactors would be built according to the most advanced safety standards, arguing "Our state leaders have put a high priority on [nuclear safety] but companies executing projects do not seem to have the same level of understanding." 

Worse still, last year the French Nuclear Safety Authority, (L'Autorité de sûreté nucléaire, ASN) complained publicly about the lack of communication with their Chinese counterparts over joint venture  nuclear reactor projects.

We know the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and DECC ministers all deem China excellent partners to develop new nuclear in the UK. But not all departments have such sanguine assessments of China’s Political governance. Here is part of what the latest Foreign Office annual human rights report, released in March this year, says of China, in its section ‘countries of concern’:
 Of principal concern were detentions of human rights defenders (HRDs) for the peaceful expression of their views. These continued as part of an ongoing clampdown on freedom of expression, association and assembly. There were particular spikes in detentions, including in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the clearance of the Tiananmen Square protests; and the Hong Kong protest movements, which began in September. Suppression of ethnic unrest in Tibet and Xinjiang also continued…. it is believed that China executes the largest number of people in the world. It retains 55 capital offences, including for non-violent and economic crimes.”

A good time to make sure China realises we are not  "kowtowing" to China's atomic ambitions would be this week when China's President Xi visits London.

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