On Wednesday, the French energy company EDF submitted its plans to build the next nuclear power plant in Suffolk. EDF intends to work together with the Chinese state-owned energy company, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), on the project. The two companies are already collaborating on the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, where CGN has helped to fund a third of the £20 billion cost.
However, CGN was accused by the US government in 2016 of engaging in espionage dating back to the nineties in order to steal US technology, a charge it strenuously denies.
Last year, the Trump administration placed the company on its “entity list”, effectively banning US firms from doing business with it.
Amid growing concern in Parliament over Chinese ownership of national strategic assets, senior Tory MPs have urged the prime minister to overhaul his energy policy.
The former Conservative leader Iain Duncan-Smith warned the power plant was “the next Huwaei” and would increase the UK’s dependency on China.
BORIS JOHNSON was warned by MPs that Chinese involvement in the Sizewell C
Iain Duncan-Smith warned the power plant was “the next Huwaei”
He told the Daily Telegraph: “It is another major manifestation of the problem we face having set out on the wrong path with China years ago.
“With Huawei, with Sizewell C, one by one you will see the scale of dependency we have created on China and we have to deal with it.”
He added: “I think our whole energy policy needs to be reviewed in light of our issue with China.”
Mr Duncan-Smith received backing from another Tory MP, Bob Seely.
He cautioned that the UK “may live to regret it”
Mr Seely, who is the MP for the Isle of Wight, is part of a group of Tory MPs opposed to Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G network.
He cautioned that the UK “may live to regret it”, if it becomes dependent on Chinese-built critical national infrastructure.
“Sadly, the China of the last twenty years has been replaced by a new Chinese leadership which is much more combative and frankly ideological,” he said.
Mr Seely said the government needed to carry out a thorough review of how the UK and the Western alliance interacts with China, before making “highly significant decisions”.
EDF submitted its plans to build the next nuclear power plant in Suffolk.
The two companies are already collaborating on the construction of the Hinkley Point C
He argued such a review should encompass “free and fair trade, human rights, surveillance, espionage and security, the risks of Chinese CNI in the UK, the Communist party’s geopolitical ambitions as well as the interests of our key allies in the Pacific”.
It comes as the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to rescind Hong Kong’s special trade status in response to Beijing’s plans to introduce a controversial new security law.
Mr Pompeo said that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China and as a result did not merit special treatment under US law.
The declaration is likely to have huge economic implications for China, as it threatens Hong Kong’s status as a trade hub and international financial centre.
Mr Pompeo’s remarks came in response to Beijing’s plan to impose a draconian new security law, which would ban treason, secession, sedition and subversion in the former British colony.
Critics have argued that the new China law is a blatant attempt to curtail freedoms granted to Hong Kong in the mini-constitution that was agreed when the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Mr Pompeo said that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China
In a statement on Wednesday, the US Secretary of State said China’s plan to impose the new security legislation in Hong Kong was “only the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms.”
“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” he said.
“After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as US laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997.”