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Sun January 16 2022

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China invited to take stakes in UK infrastructure projects

18 Jun 14 The UK government has opened the way for massive Chinese investment in major infrastructure projects after signing a series of cooperation agreements.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang and UK prime minister David Cameron
Chinese premier Li Keqiang and UK prime minister David Cameron

The HS2 high speed rail project and the next generation of nuclear power stations are among assets that could end up in Chinese ownership.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang is visiting the UK this week and yesterday sat down with prime minister David Cameron to sign various memoranda of understanding (MOU) to strengthen bilateral relations and trade. Among these were measures easing the way for Chinese money to come into Britain, a new nuclear treaty and an MOU on collaboration in the field of rail transportation.

The rail agreement paves the way for closer co-operation on areas such as rail design, engineering, construction, supply, operation and maintenance.Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I can see great mutual benefit to be gained from increased co-operation between the UK and China on rail. The railways are a massive success story in both countries and we can boast world class expertise across the sector.”

The MOU states the scope of the partnership may include:

  • the development of new build and upgrading rail infrastructure projects;
  • the supply of products and services to third markets;
  • collaboration on research and development within the rail sector;
  • station design;
  • equipment supply;
  • rail transport safety and evaluation; and
  • energy saving and environmental protection in rail.

The new nuclear MOU allows Chinese companies to own and operate Chinese-designed nuclear power stations on UK soil, provided they meet the requirements of the UK’s independent regulator.  The UK government said that this paves the way for Chinese companies to invest in Hinkley Point C, for starters.

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The two governments have also agreed to closer cooperation on the wider nuclear fuel supply chain cycle by working together to develop and export innovative solutions in areas such as waste treatment and decommissioning.

The Chinese premier was told that the UK welcomes suitable qualified companies from China bidding for projects in accordance with international and domestic procurement practices and laws. However, the agreement states that contracts won in the UK should use and build upon the UK supply chain.

In return, the UK expects to see greater emphasis on access to the China market for UK companies.

Other agreements signed yesterday include one to strengthen cooperation in offshore wind power technology, installation standards and financing mechanisms and jointly consider establishing a training centre for offshore wind power technologies.

Among £14bn of trade and investment deals announced to coincide with Mr Li’s visit, MAP Environmental and ZN Shine Solar struck a joint venture to purchase, develop, construct and manage £400m of UK solar PV assets. The project will involve a three-year construction programme in conjunction with some of the UK’s largest engineering, procurement and construction contractors as well as a 20-year maintenance term. The project will generate up to 50 new UK jobs in design, administration and operation roles with a further 500 new UK jobs in construction and maintenance created over the period of the contract, they said.

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