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Sizewell B nuclear power plant in Suffolk, United Kingdom
London has ousted Chinese nuclear firm CGN from the Sizewell C project amid tensionsImage: Chris Radburn/AFP/Getty Images
PoliticsUnited Kingdom

UK removes China from Sizewell C nuclear plant amid tensions

November 29, 2022

London has stripped Chinese firm CGN of its stake in the nuclear plant. British lawmakers were visiting Taiwan and China's London ambassador was summoned over the alleged assault of a BBC reporter as tensions mount.


The United Kingdom on Tuesday stripped China General Nuclear (CGN) of its stake in the Sizewell C power station.

CGN had a 20% stake in the construction of the nuclear power plant in Suffolk, eastern England.

Meanwhile, Britain summoned China's ambassador over the arrest and alleged assault of a BBC journalist covering protests in Shanghai.

What do we know about the Sizewall C plant?

The Sizewell C plant will power the equivalent of about six million homes and is scheduled to start producing electricity at the earliest in 2035.

London plans to invest 700 million pounds ($843 million, €810 million) in the plant. This figure was matched by French partner Electricite de France (EDF).

"The UK government's investment in Sizewell C will support the project's continued development," the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said, adding that this was "at the heart of the new blueprint to Britain's energy sovereignty."

"The investment also allows for China General Nuclear's exit from the project, including buy-out costs, any tax due and commercial arrangements."

On Monday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned that the "golden era" of UK-China relations was over. He said that China poses a "systemic challenge" to British interests, but still called for "robust pragmatism" in dealing with London's competitors.

China clamps down on widespread protests

London summons Chinese ambassador

Also on Tuesday, Chinese ambassador Zheng Zeguang was called in to the British Foreign Office over an incident involving BBC journalist Ed Lawrence.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly previously called the incident "deeply disturbing."

Lawrence was arrested by Shanghai police late on Sunday as he was covering protests against COVID-19 restrictions. The BBC said he was assaulted by police.

Earlier on Tuesday, China's embassy in London said in a statement: "The UK side is in no position to pass judgment on China's COVID policy or other internal affairs."

"China respects the right of journalists to report, but they must abide by the laws and regulations of the host country. No journalist, including British ones, is exempt," it said.

Last month, a senior Chinese diplomat was summoned by the Foreign Office after his consulate colleagues in the northwestern English city of Manchester were accused of beating up a Hong Kong pro-democracy protester.

UK lawmakers in Taiwan

A British parliamentary committee were visiting Taiwan this week to meet President Tsai Ing-Wen, the UK's Foreign Affairs Committee said.

London is seeking to modify its policy in the Indo-Pacific region following its withdrawal from the European Union.

"This visit to Taiwan has long been a priority for the Foreign Affairs Committee," committee chair Alicia Kearns said.

"The multiple challenges to security and prosperity across the globe make constructive ties between democracies, such as those enjoyed by the UK and Taiwan, all the more important," she added.

In August, former US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, angering Beijing. China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory.

sdi/dj (AFP, Reuters)

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