PM against ‘pitchforking away’ all Chinese investment amid security challenge

Boris Johnson said he did not want to ‘minimise the importance in this country of having a trading relationship with China’.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister said he did not want to “pitchfork away” all investment from China, as he was pressed on the security challenge posed by the Chinese state.

Boris Johnson made his comments as he was quizzed about the proposed nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex, put forward by China’s state-owned and state-operated nuclear company, the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).

Labour MP Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich) reminded Mr Johnson that “the Government’s Integrated Review concluded the Chinese state poses a systemic challenge to our national security” and that he had himself made it clear that “when it comes to China, we must remain vigilant about our critical national infrastructure”.

An artist’s impression of what a new nuclear power station at Bradwell, Essex, might look like
An artist’s impression issued by CGN of what a new nuclear power station at Bradwell, Essex, might look like (CGN/PA)

He continued: “Can he therefore confirm today unequivocally that plans for China General Nuclear to own and operate its own plant in Bradwell in Essex have been abandoned and explain to the House precisely how and when his Government intends to remove the CGN’s interest from the Sizewell C nuclear project?”

CGN is part of a consortium behind the planned new nuclear plant in Suffolk.

Mr Johnson said the Government does not “want to see undue influence by potentially adversarial countries in our critical national infrastructure” and insisted that on Bradwell “there will be more information forthcoming”.

But he added: “What I don’t want to do is pitchfork away wantonly all Chinese investment in this country or minimise the importance in this country of having a trading relationship with China.”

China’s involvement in nuclear power in the UK dates back to an agreement endorsed by then-prime minister David Cameron and Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2015.

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