The fallout from the UK Government’s delaying its decision on building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has been shown this week to still be overshadowing relations between the two countries.
The week started with the UK Government trying to reassure the Chinese that they were not running an anti-Chinese agenda and that the situation with Hinkley was merely delay. However, it is not clear that the Chinese are taking this a face value given the Chinese Government responded via its official news agency stating that they worry the decision is motivated by China-phobia. While they have welcomed Theresa May’s letter it seems that they are at pains to point out that there is more at stake than just this one project, a point they have made before.
It is of course very difficult to read what this week’s exchanges will mean for the future of the project but it is certainly clear that it is a very high stakes decision. Theresa May travels to China in September for the G20 Summit and it would certainly help her reception if she was to make a positive decision by then. However, from what we have seen so far the new Prime Minister does not like to be rushed in her decision making so perhaps the industry should not hold its breath for a decision at or before the G20 meeting.
Nuclear Matters will continue to monitor developments as they happen but given the pressure being exerted from the Chinese side it would seem that the UK Government will have to decide before the end of the year as they have indicated. Beyond that point permanent damage could be done to the UK/China trading relationship.