Press Release – 26th May 2020
The ‘golden era’ in relations between Britain and China which gave birth to the prospect of a Chinese nuclear power station on the Blackwater appears to be foundering less than five years after its triumphant proclamation at the State Visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping, in October 2015.
The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) has long voiced its concerns about the potential security risks from Chinese control of strategic UK infrastructure, such as the proposed Bradwell B nuclear power station. These fears have been echoed by Dr. Robert Ford, the US State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Non-Proliferation and International Security, who has warned that the Chinese developer, China General Nuclear Power Corporation, (CGN), ‘is closely linked to the Communist regime’s military’ and urged Britain not to hand China control of its electricity (Daily Mail, 16 May, 2020).
It is worth noting that the United states, with whom the UK is seeking a free trade deal, is opposed to issuing a nuclear license to ‘an alien or any other entity……it knows or has reason to believe is owned, controlled or dominated by an alien, a foreign corporation, or a foreign government’ (Statement from US Nuclear Regulatory Commission). Meanwhile, in the UK, the ‘golden relationship’ is being questioned by Tory MPs, the Labour Party and the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committees of MPs. Moves are being made to toughen up company takeover laws, to strengthen security and to assert the UK’s strategic independence. The Government has recently set up ‘Project Defend’ to ‘identify, the country’s main economic vulnerabilities to potentially hostile foreign governments as part of a broader approach to national security’ (Reuters, 22 May, 2020).
BANNG has twice written to the Tory MPs who are opposed to the involvement of Huawei in the UK’s telecommunications sector, which the Government has now announced will be reduced to zero by 2023. They were asked if they agreed that the Chinese design, construction and operation of Bradwell B would pose potentially huge risks to the security of the UK’s power supplies, to its relations with major allies and, in the extreme, to the safety of those living within the wider area around Bradwell, including large towns such as Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend.
In a similar vein, BANNG’s Chair, Andy Blowers, has written to Nadhim Zahawi, the Energy Minister, pointing to concerns about the Chinese threat to British industry, trade and security and urging him to consider whether having Chinese-designed and built reactors on a vulnerable site in Eastern England is in the national interest.
At a time when Chinese geopolitical interests are creating tensions in relations in the Far East and a new Cold War of trade and security is on the horizon, it makes little sense to allow the takeover of British strategic infrastructure by a military-industrial company integrally linked to the Chinese state.