Hinkley Point delay sends mixed messages to Chinese investors

Hinkley Point CYesterday’s decision by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to delay the final go-ahead for the Hinkley Point nuclear plant has set alarm bells ringing in Beijing, just days after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that he was opening talks with China about the creation of a new free trade deal with the Asian superpower.
EDF CEO Vincent de RivazThe contracts that would have set construction of the £18bn project in motion were due to be signed today (Friday) after France’s EDF, the major investor, approved funding at a board meeting last week; but all their plans were thrown up in the air yesterday and the company’s CEO Vincent de Rivaz has cancelled a trip to the site.
 “We are really questioning what’s going on. We were all set to go over when it was suddenly pushed back. It seems the UK government has a lot of doubts, we aren’t sure where all this is coming from,”said a senior official in the Chinese nuclear industry who was also scheduled to be in the UK for the signing. 
UK Joint Chief of Staff Nick TimothyThe UK’s decision to delay signals fears in Downing Street that Beijing could shut down Britain’s energy production at will,” concerns that Mrs May’s joint chief of staff Nick Timothy had voiced before the referendum when he suggested that former PM David Cameron’s attempts to secure Chinese investment in sensitive sectors raised the possibility that Beijing could close down nuclear reactors in Britain as a form of energy blackmail. The Chinese, he claimed, could “use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will.Chinese Nuclear Corporation“For those who believe that such an eventuality is unlikely, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation — one of the state-owned companies involved in the plans for the British nuclear plants — says on its website that it is responsible not just for “increasing the value of state assets and developing the society” but the “building of national defence.”

Source: FT