A trio of Tory MPs have called on Boris Johnson to ban a China-owned company from owning a Suffolk nuclear plant amid concerns the move could jeopardise the status of a future site.
Reports circulating yesterday suggested the Prime Minister was preparing to ban China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) from retaining majority ownership of the £20bn Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk out of national security concerns.
This could then see the UK government buying a multi-billion pound stake in the plant.
The Times reported today that some cabinet ministers are concerned about the potential move and the effect it would have on CGN’s investment into the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which is due to open in 2026.
Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith told City A.M. that Chinese-owned firms should be completely cut out of owning British nuclear power sites in any case.
“We’ve got to get rid of the Chinese involvement – they are a threat and they’ve made that clear,” he said.
“Companies operating in China are all locked within the apparatus of the arrogant, dictatorial government…the government needs to resolve this and resolve this quickly.”
The party’s China hawks have been sounding the alarm over Chinese companies owning critical infrastructure in the UK and the national security concerns this could present.
This includes things like nuclear plants, 5G infrastructure and chip factories.
Foreign Affairs Committee chair and Conservative backbencher Tom Tugendhat said “we need to be able to trust the companies and countries which hold the keys to our critical infrastructure”.
“The risks of working with state-owned Chinese companies on our nuclear programme are simply too high and so I agree that we should not have Chinese technology nuclear reactors,” he said.
Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely added: “The government is moving its position, but it’s moving slowly. There is a lot more that can be done and we need a more integrated approach to Russia and China.”
It comes as former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today predicted that the UK will block the takeover of the country’s largest chip manufacturer by a Chinese-owned firm.
The takeover of the Welsh-based Newport Wafer Fab (NWF) quickly prompted national security concerns by MPs across the spectrum.
Johnson announced that his national security adviser was probing the sale, after the government initially decided there were no grounds for intervention.
A government spokesperson said: “All nuclear projects in the UK are conducted under robust and independent regulation to meet the UK’s rigorous legal, regulatory and national security requirements, ensuring our interests are protected.”