UK urged to be fair with Chinese businesses after a Chinese company is forced out of power project
Published: Nov 30, 2022 09:37 PM
Zhao Lijian Photo: VCG

Zhao Lijian Photo: VCG

Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged the UK to provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies and create favorable conditions for China-UK cooperation after the British government squeezed Chinese investment out of a power project on so-called national security grounds.

"The UK should abandon the Cold War mentality, stop spreading 'China threat' theory and view China and China-UK relations in an objective and rational way," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday.

China is committed to developing relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit, while resolutely safeguarding its own sovereignty, security and development interests, Zhao added.

The remarks come after British government said it will invest around $843 million to become a 50-percent shareholder in the Sizewell C nuclear power project under a deal with French electric utility company EDF, according to a Reuters report. The funding includes the acquisition of the 20-percent stake of China General Nuclear (CGN), marking the Chinese company's exit from the project.

The Chinese Embassy in the UK earlier responded that it has noted that the Chinese company had signed an agreement to exit the project. "In principle, we oppose any discriminatory practices against Chinese businesses. It is hoped that the UK side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies in the UK," the embassy said on Wednesday.

CGN signed agreements in 2016 with EDF and the UK government for Hinkley Point C, a nuclear project in Somerset, and a suite of agreements relating to the Sizewell C in eastern England and Bradwell B projects in Essex.

However, London has been looking for ways to force the Chinese companies out, citing so-called national security concerns.

"We would need to make a judgment on what's right for the UK. I think we wouldn't do anything to put UK security at risk and indeed our focus is on enhancing our energy independence," the UK prime minister's spokesman Max Blain said, Bloomberg reported.

The move that forces China out of the project is another blow to Britain's business relationship with China and is a breach of contract, which damages market principles, the UK's credibility and its own interests, analysts said.

Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, said that the Sizewell C nuclear power project was supposed to become a model of cooperation among China, France and the UK. However, Britain is clearly going in a different direction.

"It is now going against profit maximization and the trend of economic globalization amid the Five Eyes Alliance's sinister efforts to contain China," Wang told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The move to oust and restrict Chinese investment citing so-called security fears could lead to significant cost overrun and worsen the investment climate in the UK, Wang said.

Earlier, London blocked a Chinese company's acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab, also citing national security risks related to "technology and know-how that could result from compound semiconductor activities at the site, and the potential for those activi-ties to undermine UK capabilities".

Global Times