According to a formal statement released on Tuesday, the UK will prevent China from participating in the development of the nation’s new nuclear energy project by holding a 50% interest and seeking additional outside funding for the project’s construction and operation.
China General Nuclear (CGN) will be excluded from the project as a result of the deal with the EDF’s owner, the British integrated energy firm, and CGN will surrender its 20% development investment.
British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said in a statement that the massive project, once finished, “will power millions of homes with clean, affordable, homegrown energy for decades to come.”
The announcement stated that the UK will provide the Sizewell C nuclear power station in southeast England about £700 million ($842 million).
The declaration followed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s indication on Monday that the “golden period” of relations between the UK and China had come to an end, using a phrase first used by his predecessor David Cameron in 2015.
Sunak also said that “the mistaken belief that trade will lead to social and political transformation” in China is over in a speech he gave in London.
Sunak said China poses a “systemic challenge” to UK “values and interests” while speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, an annual event where the prime minister addresses corporate executives, foreign dignitaries, and specialists in foreign affairs.
Sunak’s speech was delivered after the government denounced China in response to reports that a BBC journalist had been assaulted by police and temporarily imprisoned while covering the COVID-19 lockdown demonstrations.
The Chinese government, Sunak claimed, “has opted to crack down more, including by attacking a BBC journalist,” rather than paying attention to the protests of its people.
He continued, referring to a northwest province with a sizable Uyghur Muslim population: “The media – and our lawmakers – must be permitted to raise these issues without consequence, including calling out violations in Xinjiang – and the constriction of freedom in Hong Kong.”
Sunak referred to China as “the biggest-long term threat to Britain and the world’s economic and national security” during the Tory leadership contest this summer.