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Business

Britain opens nuclear market to Chinese investors

Britain's Finance Minister has said his government is willing in principle to allow Chinese companies to secure majority stakes in new nuclear power plants. A memorandum was signed to take cooperation to a new level.

UK Finance Minister George Osborne announced Thursday that Chinese companies would potentially be able to acquire majority stakes in new nuclear power projects to be launched in Britain.

He confirmed at the end of a trip to China that the two sides had signed a memorandum of understanding on civil nuclear cooperation.

"Today is another demonstration of the next big step in the relationship between Britain and China, between the world's oldest civil nuclear power and the world's fastest-growing civil nuclear power," Osborne said in a statement. The UK's claim derives from the opening of the world's first commercial nuclear power facility at Calder Hall in 1956.

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The minister argued closer bilateral cooperation in the field would lead to more investment and jobs in Britain as well as to lower energy costs for consumers in the long run.

Osborne acknowledged that initial Chinese investments in British nuclear power plants were likely to be minority shares. "But over time, stakes in subsequent new power stations could be majority stakes," he added.

The memorandum of understanding signed by the two nations also ensures that British companies such as Rolls Royce and International Nuclear Services will be able to get a slice of China's nuclear program.

According to a UK government release, China currently has 17 operating nuclear reactors, with another 28 under construction.

hg/hc (AFP, AP)

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