Sat, Jul 16, 2016 - Page 1 News List

China planning nuclear plants in S China Sea

Reuters, BEIJING, TOKYO and MANILA

China aims to launch a series of offshore nuclear power platforms to promote development in the South China Sea, state media said yesterday, days after an international court ruled Beijing had no historic claims to most of the waters.

Sovereignty over the South China Sea is contested by Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, and any move to build nuclear reactors is bound to stoke further tension in the region.

The China Securities Journal said 20 offshore nuclear platforms could eventually be built in the region, as the country seeks to “speed up the commercial development” of the South China Sea.

“China’s first floating nuclear reactor will be assembled by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp’s (CSIC, 中國船舶重工集團公司) subsidiary, Bohai Heavy Industry (渤船重工), and the company will build 20 such reactors in the future,” the newspaper said.

“The marine nuclear power platform will provide energy and freshwater to the Nansha Islands (南沙群島),” it said, referring to the disputed Spratly Islands.

The newspaper cited a social media post by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC, (中國核工企業集團), which has since been deleted.

The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, announced similar news in April and said the nuclear power platforms could “sail” to remote areas and provide a stable power supply.

“The news is old,” an expert with the China Nuclear Energy Association said.

“It is repeated in reaction to the latest South China Sea disputes,” the expert, who declined to be identified, told reporters. “Little progress has been made on building such a small reactor.”

When asked at a daily news briefing, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) said he did not know anything about the plans.

Floating reactors were first proposed in the US in the 1970s, but then abandoned. The first demonstration of the technology is due to be launched in Russia next year.

“This will need several years of design and safety analysis before it can go into full construction,” Xiamen University School of Energy Research dean Li Ning (李寧) said.

A spokesman for CNNC told reporters the floating reactors plan had been drawn up by its affiliate, the Nuclear Power Institute of China, and a final decision would be made by CSIC.

CSIC was not immediately available for comment.

In related news, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with his Vietnamese counterpart that an arbitration court’s decision this week on the South China Sea must be observed, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said yesterday.

The court in The Hague ruled that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea and that it has breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights with its actions, infuriating Beijing, which dismissed the case as a farce.

Abe and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc were in Mongolia for a summit of Asian and European leaders.

Meanwhile, the China Coast Guard prevented Filipino boats from fishing around Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島), Philippine officials said yesterday.

A dispute over the shoal, 124 nautical miles (229.7km) northwest of the Philippines was one of Manila’s main reasons for bringing international legal action against China in 2013.

Military officials and fishermen in northwest Pangasinan province said coast guard vessels remained in place at Scarborough and were still preventing fishermen from entering the shoal’s lagoon.

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