British minister in China amid tension over n-plant

Beijing, Aug 16 (IANS) British Minister for Asia Alok Sharma is on an official visit to China amid bilateral tensions owing to the UK’s decision to delay a nuclear power plant project with Chinese investment, officials said on Tuesday.

Sharma, who met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on Monday, the first day of his trip, is the first high-ranking British official to visit China after last month’s decision by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to delay the setting up of the Hinkley Point power station, EFE news reported.

The decision was prompted in principle by concerns about the safety repercussions of the project funded by Chinese state-owned company, China General Nuclear, and managed by French energy group EDF.

In an evident attempt to re-establish bilateral confidence, Sharma said, “The UK’s relationship with China is strong, growing and delivering benefits for both our countries.”

“Britain is open for business and an attractive destination for international investors, including from China. Our trade is at record levels. UK exports to China have grown 57 per cent since 2010 and China is expected to be the UK’s second largest foreign investor by 2020,” he added.

“As permanent members of the UN Security Council, we are working together to tackle global issues of the 21st century,” Sharma emphasized.

Sharma, whose visit to China comes as London seeks to promote agreements with partners outside the European Union after its exit from the bloc in June, will also visit Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

–IANS

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