Hinkley Point seen to clear the decks for China's nuclear exports to west

UK prime minister Theresa May's decision to allow a Chinese company to invest in the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant would mean a lot beyond investments, say commentators.

Chinese investments are limited to investing funds in the $24-billion project, which would use two French reactors supplied by Electricity de France, but according to analysts, it would clear the decks for Chinese involvement in a more crucial project at Bradwell, east England, which would allow China to export its nuclear technology to the west.

China General Nuclear Corporation, (CGN) which had investment in Hinkley Point, had already signed a pre-feasibility agreement for the Bradwell project.

"Hinkley Point C is completely based on French design. It is the Bradwell project that is very important to the Chinese because they might get the opportunity to apply their own technology," Jan Gaspers, head of research for the European China Policy unit at Berlin's Mercator Institute for China Studies, told Voice of America (VOA).

Chinese reactors are being used by only a few developing countries like Pakistan which were not known to have the kind of strict regulatory control seen in the west.

Meanwhile, CGN had stated the approval meant it was now ''able to move forward and deliver'' a new plant at Bradwell.

But the news has raised hackles at Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group, which had been campaigning against a new power station at Bradwell.

A spokesman for the group said, ''Bradwell is the site of an irrational and irresponsible dalliance with danger for us and the generations to follow.

''It seems that little, if any, attention has been paid to the fact that only 2.5 km over the Blackwater estuary from the new site lies Mersea Island with a resident population of about 7,000.

''Mersea would be right in the line of fire in the event of a nuclear accident or catastrophe.

''Experts have shown nuclear is not needed and it will commit the UK to an outmoded system of supply until the end of the century while eating up resources that could be used for renewables such as wind, solar, tidal and wave power.''

The group also raised questions over safety. It said, ''The security concerns over allowing the Chinese to be involved in our nuclear industry are well known and have been ventilated by a number of experts and authoritative bodies.