The delay of the long-anticipated British nuclear power plant project, Hinkley Point, has the Chinese government fuming (well at least on the inside). The power plant is partly backed by Chinese investors and UK officials, particularly new Prime Minister Theresa May, have begun to question just what sort of intentions are behind all that Chinese money.
British officials have requested additional time to review the investment, in part due to national security concerns. According to The Guardian, The main fear seems to be that China plans to implement “backdoors” into the technology used on the project.
The Chinese government is playing it cool in the face of these allegations, claiming that they “understand” the need for British authorities to take more time to review their investment. Still, that hasn’t stopped officials from making passive aggressive quips that “the so-called golden era [of UK-China relations] it cultivated with the previous British government might now be at an end,” BBC News reports.
To be honest, we thought that golden era had ended when the Queen called Chinese diplomats “very rude” or at least with Brexit.
At the same time, Xinhua cites Chinese officials saying that they will not tolerate “unwanted accusations” about their choice to invest in the power plant. The officials claim that they are bewildered by this “suspicious approach that comes from nowhere to Chinese investment.”
China has warned new British Prime Minister Theresa May to be wary of how she proceeds. After all, Chinese investments are funding one-third of the plant, and losing that cash would be detrimental.
May’s official spokeswoman had this to say: “Of course with the role that China has to play on world affairs, on the global economy, on a whole range of international issues, we are going to continue to seek a strong relationship with China.”
The total cost of the plant is estimated at around £18bn. Most of that sum is being funded by French company EDF, which approved China’s investment just last week.
Last year, Britain’s First Secretary of State George Osborne paid a visit to China in hopes of strengthening the UK’s economic ties there. It was during that visit that Osborne invited China’s state-owned nuclear industry to build and operate power station in the UK.
And now they are having second thoughts. Geez guys, make up your mind already!
By Robin Winship
[Image via Shanghai Daily]