Liz Truss suggests China should play no role in new nuclear plants

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, and a CGI model of how Sizewell C could look

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has said Britain must not become "dependent" on China for "critical national infrastructure" like Sizewell C. - Credit: EDF/PA

The foreign secretary has warned against Chinese state-owned companies being involved in "areas of critical national infrastructure" like Sizewell C.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Liz Truss said China was an important trading partner for the UK.

But, she said, it was important not to become reliant.

Ms Truss, who was promoted in the reshuffle last month, was asked about the involvement of China’s state-owned energy company CGN in Sizewell C, and said: “I’d go back to the broader comments I’ve made about diversifying supply.”

CGN is part of a consortium providing funding for the preparatory work on the planned new nuclear plant on the Suffolk coast.

Ms Truss said: “I think it’s very important that we don’t become strategically dependent and I think it’s important that we make sure that we’re working, particularly in areas of critical national infrastructure, with reliable partners.”

She added: “We are making sure, in all of our policy positions, that we are able to work with like-minded partners on key strategic areas.”

Ms Truss also appeared to suggest to the Telegraph that the UK could not be dependent on China for 5G networks.

It follows the fiasco of the rollout of 5G in the UK, which saw Chinese firm Huawei ultimately excluded from the process on security grounds, leaving the country reliant on only two equipment vendors while causing a likely delay to the full installation of 5G networks.

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She said: “It is very important that we don’t become strategically dependent on high-risk vendors in this space.

“There are other areas like quantum, artificial intelligence, cyber security where we need to make sure the partners we’re innovating with are reliable and there is a bond of trust there.”

In response to a 2020 investigation by this newspaper into Sizewell C's financial backers, EDF said it wanted Sizewell to be majority-owned by British investors, but that it was up to the Government to decide who invests in the plant.

If legislation is brought in restricting CGN’s involvement then this will be applied, EDF bosses said.

“Sizewell C is not dependent on CGN investment,” a spokesman added.

This week, a spokeswoman for Sizewell C told this newspaper that nuclear power was set to play a key role in the Government's newly published Net Zero Strategy.