China firm aims to build big nuclear plant for Pakistan

Published: September 20, 2010

Nuclear power plants are important as they help overcome energy shortages. PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING: China’s main nuclear energy corporation is in talks to build a 1-gigawatt atomic power plant in Pakistan, an executive said on Monday, a move that could intensify international unease about their nuclear embrace.

China has already helped Pakistan build its main nuclear power facility at Chashma in Punjab province, where one reactor is running and another near finished, and it has contracts to build two more there, despite the qualms of other governments.

Qiu Jiangang, vice president of the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), told a meeting in Beijing that the company was already looking beyond those deals to an even bigger plant. “Both sides are in discussions over the CNNC exporting a one-gigawatt nuclear plant to Pakistan,” he said.

Qiu confirmed the two countries have signed contracts to build the No 3 and No 4 reactors of about 300 megawatts each at Chashma. He did not give details about who was involved in discussions for the bigger plant and how far the talks had progressed.

The proposed expansion of China’s nuclear power ties with Pakistan is likely to magnify unease in Washington, Delhi and other capitals worried about Pakistan’s role regional security and nuclear proliferation. Pakistan is a long-standing partner of China, and has been suffering chronic power shortages. Beijing is wary of Indian regional dominance and US influence.

In 2008 Washington signed a nuclear energy deal with India that China and other countries questioned but ultimately let through. Critics of that US-India deal say it prompted China to deepen its own nuclear power cooperation with Pakistan, which has been beset by political instability and militant attacks.

Rivals India and Pakistan both possess nuclear arsenals and refuse to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would oblige them to scrap those arsenals. Critics say Pakistan’s domestic instability and its past role spreading nuclear arms technology demand that China’s nuclear plans there at least come under stricter international scrutiny.

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China says safeguards in place at Chashma ensure its role is entirely peaceful. The complex is China’s first nuclear energy plant project abroad, and CNNC recently cast it as a launching pad for expanding into the global market.

“We must rely on the Pakistan Chashma nuclear power project to improve our ability to contract for nuclear power projects abroad, and to open up the foreign market for nuclear energy,” the company said in an essay recently published in Seeking Truth, a magazine issued by China’s ruling Communist Party.

A senior Pakistani government official familiar with discussions between Pakistan and China on nuclear cooperation said, “We are facing acute energy shortages and these nuclear power plants are important for us to overcome these shortages.”

“We as well as China have said time and again that all this cooperation is under the safeguards of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and there should not be any worries or concerns about it,” said the official, who demanded anonymity.

Chinese nuclear industry executives said at Monday’s seminar that the expanding nuclear power sector abroad offered abundant opportunities. China prides itself in building the Lingao reactor that began fully operating in the country’s far southern Guangdong province last week in a record-breaking period of 57 months.

“All these experiences have laid the foundation for the nuclear sector to go overseas,” said He Yu, chairman of the Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp. China plans a massive expansion of its nuclear power in the next decade, and has about 28 reactors currently under construction, some 40 per cent of the world’s total being built.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Adnan Tariq
    Sep 20, 2010 - 6:30PM

    Thank you China………..Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Sep 20, 2010 - 8:58PM

    Thanks A lot China ….. you are our True Friend!Recommend

  • Concerned Omega
    Sep 20, 2010 - 9:02PM

    Even with a 10 gigawatts power plant there would be load shedding.
    Reasons
    1. Improper supply of electricity through overheads 20 % is lost.
    2. So called electricity thefts
    3. Ages old power grids insufficient to transfer or use high voltages.
    4. Sucking politicians determined not to get rid of load shedding
    5. Poor management and unqualified personnel at Wapda.

    ETC
    I could go on and on everything has to be redone.
    Simple solution government has failed so hand the electricity and water departments to the private sectors.100% guaranteed results. Thats what India did and got rid of fat lousy politicians eating bill payers money instead of putting it to good use.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 20, 2010 - 9:59PM

    Isn’t this directly against NSG rules that China is a member of? I know people will talk of India and how its signing deals with other Atomic powers but that is after NSG gave us a waiver. I dont remember NSG giving Pakistan any waiver!

    US will put a stop to it I hope.Recommend

  • Nayyar Shafi
    Sep 20, 2010 - 10:19PM

    A friend in need is a friend indeed.
    Thank You China.. :)Recommend

  • Saad Farooq
    Sep 20, 2010 - 10:28PM

    Concerned Omega.. you have said it all… agreed!Recommend

  • Bilal
    Sep 21, 2010 - 1:11AM

    Dear Anoop,

    we would say only one thing…”to hell with Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)”…at least we people of Pakistan doesn’t accept such double standards from NSG where it accepts US-Indo Nuclear deal and prohibits Pak-Sino deal..by the way US is also a member of NSG and still they are in contract with India..with no office to anyone, you do your job and we are doing ours…all the very best…Recommend

  • saher
    Sep 21, 2010 - 9:33AM

    some ppl are just pessimistic…:P.. Thank you China but well China also has its benefits of a stronger pakistanRecommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Sep 21, 2010 - 12:26PM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.This is much the best offer given from China to Pakistan to over come energy crisis but the question raises is either our supreme commander USA shall accept it or oppose it?In the past Iran,China and Tajikstan have offered nuclear power plants but USA interfered but now again China assured to provide nuclear power plant.Now let see what objections raise US officials on this deal and either our leaders pay their full attention on US officials’ objections or entirely reject them.The most important thing despite the facts of US officials’ interference this 1GW nuclear power plant shall definitely boost up the Pakistan’s economy and fulfill the electricity requirements in the future.Pakistani leadership must stand strongly instead of all objections if happen to accept this Chinese government’s offer without any fear.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 21, 2010 - 1:55PM

    @Bilal,

    Pakistan has not signed NPT and hence is under no obligations to follow its rules. But, China has. It has to follow its rules. It cannot supply nuclear material or knowledge to any country that hasn’t signed the NPT or has got a waiver(like India).

    US and the other 3 members of the Security Coucil will definitely take it up. Countries like Austria, New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland will take up the issue as well.

    The world knows how much Pakistan cares for Proliferation when it enjoyed a barter system with North Korea. Poor AQ Khan was named scape goat for massive proliferation by the Pakistani army.Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 22, 2010 - 12:36PM

    @Anoop: thanks China for this. You don’t need to say anything abt our or china’s proposed ventures. Do your stuff with the yankees. This is well appreciated and could bring abt a nice change for Pakistan. Creation of jobs as well. Govt should become serious in this and we have enough capable people who can do this job very well

    Pakistan- Cheen dosti ZIndabadRecommend

  • Eeman
    Sep 22, 2010 - 6:08PM

    Soon we’ll have more nuclear reactors and less schools and more nuclear-tipped missiles and less pencilsRecommend

  • asma@london
    Sep 23, 2010 - 3:13AM

    FRIENDS FOREVER-INSHALLAH.Chinese are the most stable and reliable friends to Pakistanis. The yankees are upset with some of our policies. No wonder the frequent drone attacks and the push to destabilise the government of our country.Recommend

  • asma@london
    Sep 23, 2010 - 4:48AM

    I would like to ask the writer Anoop if he can also bring up the issue of US going to attack Iraq without the legal permission of United Nations? Recommend

  • Anoop
    Sep 23, 2010 - 10:54AM

    @asma@london,

    One wrong doesn’t make this right. I opposed bitterly when US attacked Iraq. I still oppose it. But, that doesn’t make this right.Recommend

  • aNu
    Oct 9, 2010 - 10:19AM

    Thankooo China :)Recommend

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