China woos Eastern Europe

30 November 2015

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) says China and Slovakia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation along "the entire nuclear fuel cycle industry chain" between Slovak NPP research institute VUJE, Slovakia's economy ministry, CNNC and the China Atomic Energy Authority.

China and Slovakia also want to strengthen cooperation on nuclear plant operation and maintenance. The MOU was concluded on the sidelines of the fourth meeting on cooperation between China and Central and Eastern Europe held in Suzhou, eastern China.

The Slovak economy ministry said: "The Chinese partners confirmed their interest in cooperation with the Slovak nuclear energy industry in the whole nuclear fuel cycle, i.e. from nuclear fuel supply through the construction and management of nuclear installations to decommissioning of nuclear facilities." It added that China had also proposed cooperation in nuclear projects in third countries, noting that China is "already building or planning to build nuclear plants in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe".

During the meeting, Bulgaria reportedly invited a Chinese company to invest in the construction of the planned unit 7 at the Kozloduy nuclear plant, according to Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov. The Chinese company was not named but Bulgarian daily Kapital said it may be the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC), which would receive a 49% share of the project. Kapital quoted Borisov as saying SNPTC was suggested as an option by nuclear equipment manufacturer Westinghouse, which has been in negotiations for the construction of an AP1000 nuclear unit at Kozloduy since 2012. The company signed a shareholder agreement with the previous Bulgarian government in August 2014, but the specific financing terms and conditions were never finalised.

During the Suzhou meeting China and Bulgaria also undertook to deepen cooperation in a number of areas including infrastructure, nuclear power, agriculture and tourism. A similar undertaking was agreed with the Czech Republic, with Chinese premier Li Keqiang and Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka pledging to boost cooperation in nuclear power, finance and other sectors.

"China's nuclear power technology and equipment are safe and inexpensive, which has made them competitive globally," Li said, adding that China is willing to participate in Czech's nuclear power business.

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