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Thursday, August 11, 2016, 11:11

Warning over Hinkley attracts attention

By Cecily Liu in London

China's desire for the United Kingdom government to quickly approve the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant project attracted widespread attention from the UK media and nuclear industry experts, who hope the deal will go ahead.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming warned that bilateral ties stand at a "crucial historical juncture" over the deferral of an 18-billion-pound (US$23.45 billion) nuclear project.

"I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point - and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly," Liu wrote in a commentary in the Financial Times on Monday.

In response, the British government reasserted its intention to maintain close ties with China.

"As we've already made clear, this decision is about a huge infrastructure project and it's right that the new government carefully considers it," the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We cooperate with China on a broad range of areas from the global economy to international issues and we will continue to seek a strong relationship with China."

The plant was approved in July by the board of France's EDF, its main investor after a number of delays. If it goes ahead, China General Nuclear Power Corporation is set to invest 33 percent in the project.

Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, which is involved with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, said it is "not the right way to do diplomacy" to "defer, wobble, delay and review indefinitely".

Liu's article also attracted widespread attention from the British media.

Simon Jack, business editor of the BBC, wrote in a commentary that if the British government backed out of the Hinkely deal, it "will clearly take the shine off the 'golden era' of collaboration between the two countries".

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