China’s first domestically made nuclear reactor goes online

China’s first domestically made nuclear reactor goes online
Unit 5 of China’s Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant. (CNNC)
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Updated 29 November 2020

China’s first domestically made nuclear reactor goes online

China’s first domestically made nuclear reactor goes online
  • Work on the Hualong One reactor started in 2015 and there are currently six other reactors under construction at home and abroad

BEIJING: China has powered up its first domestically developed nuclear reactor — the Hualong One — a significant step in Beijing’s attempts to become less dependent on Western allies for energy security and critical technology.

The reactor, which was connected to the national grid on Friday, can generate 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year and cut carbon emissions by 8.16 million tons, according to China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

“This marks China breaking the monopoly of foreign nuclear power technology and officially entering the technology’s first batch of advanced countries,” CNNC said in a statement.

Nuclear plants supplied less than five percent of China’s annual electricity needs in 2019, according to the National Energy Administration, but this share is expected to grow as Beijing attempts to become carbon neutral by 2060.

Reducing its dependence on Western allies in critical high-tech sectors such as power generation is a key goal in Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan.

Billions of dollars in state subsidies have been given to Chinese companies to speed the process — a move that has angered China’s trade partners and sparked a protracted trade row with Washington.

Work on the Hualong One reactor started in 2015 and there are currently six other reactors under construction at home and abroad, CNNC said.

The Hualong One, deployed at a plant in east China’s Fujian province, will be put into commercial use by the end of the year

China has 47 nuclear plants with a total generation capacity of 48.75 million kilowatts — the world’s third highest after the US and France.

Beijing has invested billions of dollars to develop its nuclear energy sector in recent years as it struggles to wean its economy from coal.

Thirteen nuclear plants are under construction, more than in any other country, despite environmental and safety concerns.

In August 2016, officials were forced to shelve plans for a nuclear waste facility in Lianyungang, a city in eastern Jiangsu province, after a rare public protest by thousands of residents.


France wants end to US-Europe trade spat

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat
Updated 17 January 2021

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat
  • All eyes on President-elect Biden to resolve disputes between partners

PARIS: The EU and the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden should suspend a trade dispute to give themselves time to find common ground, France’s foreign minister said in remarks published on Sunday.

“The issue that’s poisoning everyone is that of the price escalation and taxes on steel, digital technology and Airbus,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview.

He said he hoped the sides could find a way to settle the dispute. “It may take time, but in the meantime, we can always order a moratorium,” he added.

At the end of December the US moved to boost tariffs on French and German aircraft parts in the Boeing-Airbus subsidy dispute, but the bloc decided to hold off on retaliation for now.

The EU is planning to present a World Trade Organization (WTO) reform proposal in February and is willing to consider reforms to restrain the judicial authority of the WTO’s dispute-settlement body.

The US has for years complained that the WTO Appellate Body makes unjustified new trade rules in its decisions and has blocked the appointment of new judges to stop this, rendering the body inoperable.

The Trump administration, which leaves office on Wednesday, had threatened to impose tariffs on French cosmetics, handbags and other goods in retaliation for France’s digital services tax, which it said discriminated against US tech firms.

Overturning decades of free trade consensus was a central part of Trump’s “America First” agenda. In 2018, declaring that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he shocked allies by imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from most of the world.

While Trump later dropped tariffs against Australia, Japan, Brazil and South Korea in return for concessions, he kept them in place against more than $7 billion worth of EU metal. The bloc retaliated with tariffs on more than $3 billion worth of US goods, from orange juice and blue jeans to Harley Davidson bikes, and took its case to the WTO.

While Biden promises to be more predictable than Trump, he is not expected to lift the steel tariffs immediately. Even if he wants to, he could run into reluctance from producers in “rust belt” states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania that secured his election win.

Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of trade think tank ECIPE, said the US was unlikely to award Europe a “free pass,” noting that countries that had offered concessions to have their tariffs lifted could complain if Europe won better treatment.

Resolving future trade disputes could become easier, if Biden reverses Trump policy that paralyzed the WTO by blocking the appointment of judges to its appellate body.