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Xi to ink nuclear power deal as UK seeks Chinese investment

Published:Thursday | October 22, 2015 | 10:00 AM
China’s President Xi Jinping (second right) meets Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron (fourth left) and other senior members of his government in the cabinet room in 10 Downing Street in central London, yesterday.
China's President Xi Jinping, left and his wife Peng Liyuan, stand with Britain's Prince William, centre right and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, centre left, as they visit a creative industry event, at Lancaster House, in London, yesterday.
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LONDON, (AP):

China's state visit to Britain moved from warm toasts and ceremony to cold, hard cash yesterday, with business deals including a major Chinese investment in the UK's first nuclear power station since the 1980s.

President Xi Jinping is expected to sign an agreement that will lead to his country financing 30 percent of the cost of the Hinckley Point plant in southwest England. It is set to be completed by 2025 and will be built by Electricite de France and a group led by China's state-owned nuclear company. EDF sought investors after it was unable to cover the cost of the deal alone.

The British government has agreed to underwrite two billion pounds ($3.1 billion) in Chinese financing to secure the deal and pave the way for majority Chinese ownership of a second nuclear plant planned for England's southeast.

The nuclear agreement has faced criticism from those who suggest Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has been wooing the Chinese for trade deals while ignoring the country's human rights record.

Others worry about letting an undemocratic emerging superpower with powerful espionage capabilities access to Britain's critical infrastructure.

"It won't be the physical security that matters, but the cybersecurity," said Alan Woodward, visiting professor of computing at the University of Surrey. "We don't want a foreign power being able to quite literally turn off the lights from some remote location."