Wednesday, October 21, 2015

China's Xi seals nuclear power deal as part of $62 billion splurge in Britain

China's Xi seals nuclear power deal as part of $62 billion splurge in Britain
By Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton

A supporter of China's President Xi Jinping waves a Chinese flag opposite Big …
By Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping has sealed a multi-billion dollar deal to finance nuclear power stations in Britain, crowning a visit that Prime Minister David Cameron hopes will unleash a wave of investment from the world's second largest economy.

After a day of pomp, Communist Party General Secretary Xi on Wednesday turned from pageantry to discussion of 40 billion pounds' ($62 billion) worth of deals with Cameron in his Downing Street residence, where the landmark nuclear deal was signed.

In the first major Chinese investment in a Western nuclear facility, China's General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) will take a one-third stake in the planned 18 billion-pound ($28 billion) Hinkley Point nuclear plant controlled by France's EDF.

State-owned CGN will also take a two-thirds stake in the Bradwell nuclear plant east of London, where it plans to build a Chinese-designed reactor, and a one-fifth stake in a project for Areva-designed reactors at the Sizewell plant.

"We will build a global, comprehensive strategic partnership between our countries in the 21st century and jointly open up a golden era," Xi told reporters via a translator, adding that the nuclear deal was a flagship investment.

Cameron is pitching Britain as the pre-eminent Western gateway for investment from China, though the warmth of the reception for Xi has raised some eyebrows with allies and drawn criticism that London is ignoring China's human rights record.



Protests on the street against the Communist leader have been small so far, despite activists accusing Cameron of courting Chinese money while brushing aside criticism of a crackdown on civil liberties since Xi came to power in 2012.

British officials and business leaders say the rise of China is impossible to ignore: China's economy is four times the size of Britain's.

Cameron wants to make London, the biggest global foreign exchange centre, into the dominant Western hub for trading, clearing and settlement of renminbi.

When a BBC reporter asked Xi at a briefing whether Britain should be pleased to do business with an undemocratic country with a troubled relationship with human rights, Cameron said a strong commercial relationship was important.

"The stronger our relationship, the more able we are to have the necessary and frank discussions about other issues," Cameron said, adding he had raised the oversupply of Chinese steel after over 4,000 jobs were thrown into jeopardy at steel plants across Britain in recent weeks.

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