Britain accused of 'China-phobia' over nuclear plant: Xinhua

Houses stand in front of Hinkley Point A and B nuclear power stations in Britain, Aug 4, 2016.
Houses stand in front of Hinkley Point A and B nuclear power stations in Britain, Aug 4, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese state media on Thursday (Sept 15) welcomed Britain's approval for the Hinkley Point nuclear plant but attacked "China-phobia" in London, after new conditions were attached to the mammoth project.

"Finally, London has made a welcoming move by giving the go-ahead order to a key nuclear power plant program after it was suspended over some fictitious 'national security' concerns about Chinese investment," the Xinhua news agency said in a signed commentary.

China has a one-third stake in the French-led project in south-west England, which eventually is meant to deliver 7 per cent of Britain's electricity needs for 60 years.

 

Critics say the arrangement could give China the power to plunge Britain into darkness, and the new British government of Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a review of the project in July.

It finally gave the green light on Thursday, but added provisos to ensure it can intervene to stop any sale of the Hinkley stake held by French power group EDF, and to wield more control over future nuclear projects.

"Of course, the British leader's misgivings make little sense," the Xinhua commentary said, speculating that May was pandering to domestic critics.

"Had the programme gone under, all sides were to lose dearly, while China-Britain relations could have been tossed into uncertainty," it said, while warning that future problems are inevitable as Hinkley Point is built.

"Therefore, let us hope that London quits its China-phobia and works with Beijing to ensure the project's smooth development."