Nuclear platforms to offer ‘military edge’ in South China Sea

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/15 22:05:48

China will soon start assembling its first maritime nuclear power platform and is expected to build 20 floating nuclear power stations in the future, which will largely beef up the power and water supplies on the South China Sea islands, according to China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC).

The first nuclear power platform will be built by the Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Company (BSHIC), a company based in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

The floating power station will be able to provide safe and effective power supply to far-away islands and power sea water desalination, the CNNC wrote in an article published on its official social media WeChat account on Thursday.

Building 20 such nuclear power platforms will cost about 40 billion yuan ($5.98 billion), though it is still cheaper than the cost of an aircraft carrier fleet, the article said. China's Yongxing Island and Yongshu Reef, backed by the nuclear power platforms, will be like two aircraft carriers in the South China Sea, which could give China a military edges over US aircraft carrier fleets, it said.

Although the article was later removed from the company's WeChat account, the construction has been confirmed in previous Global Times reports.

In an interview with the Global Times on April 21, Liu Zhengguo, director of the general office of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), China's leading shipbuilding group in charge of designing and assembling the platforms, said the company is "pushing forward the work."

"The development of nuclear power platforms is a burgeoning trend," Liu said when asked to comment on reports that China plans to build 20 maritime nuclear power platforms.

"The exact number of plants to be built [by CSIC] depends on the market demand," he said, without confirming or denying the reported number. "Judging by various factors … the demand is pretty strong."

Liu emphasized the civilian use of the power plants, such as providing electricity for oil drilling platforms.

According to the CNNC article, the firm is pushing ahead with China's nuclear-powered icebreaker project. In the future, China may join hands with Russia to develop a northern navigation route through the Arctic to Europe. The route will make the US strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific useless, the article claimed.

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