Ministers are reportedly exploring how to block China’s state-owned nuclear energy company from future power projects in the UK.
The change in Britain’s stance towards China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) could affect the £20bn Sizewell C nuclear energy project in Suffolk, the Financial Times reported.
France’s EDF is scheduled to build the Sizewell site with backing from CGN.
The change could also affect proposals for a new plant at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex, according to the FT.
It could represent a further hardening in Britain’s stance towards China, after it announced plans to ban equipment made by Huawei from its 5G telecoms network by the end of 2027.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) declined to comment directly on the report.
“Nuclear power has an important role to play in the UK’s low-carbon energy future, as we work towards our world-leading target to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050,” the spokesperson said.
“All nuclear projects in the UK are conducted under robust and independent regulation to meet the UK’s rigorous legal, regulatory and national security requirements, ensuring our interests are protected,” the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said Britain “should earnestly provide an open, fair and non discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies”, adding that the countries were important trade and investment partners.
“It is in the interests of both sides to conduct practical cooperation in the spirit of mutual benefit and a win-win result,” the spokesperson said.
Reuters news agency reported that EDF declined to comment, while CGN had not responded to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, the UK’s former cyber security chief has raised the alarm over the sale of a Welsh microchip manufacturer to a Chinese-backed company.
Ciaran Martin, the former chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), told the Telegraph newspaper that the purchase of Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia, a Dutch subsidiary of the Chinese company Wingtech, posed a greater threat to British interests than Huawei’s involvement in the 5G network.
Boris Johnson has asked national security adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove to examine the deal.