China has called for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant to go ahead despite the Government’s eleventh hour decision to review the project.
The plan by French company EDF would see two reactors built at the site near Bridgwater, Somerset, with financial backing from Chinese state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp.
The project was championed by former prime minister David Cameron as a sign of Britain’s openness to foreign investment.
But just hours before a signing ceremony on Friday, Theresa May’s new government said it would review the project, raising concerns that the British approach to infrastructure deals, energy supply and foreign investment could be changing.
Mrs May expressed concerns about the security implications of Chinese investment in the nuclear plant and stepped in to delay the project.
The Government said it would make a final decision in the autumn.
In a statement to Reuters news agency, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said they had “noted” the decision.
Ms Hua said: “I would like to stress that this project was agreed upon by China, Britain and France in the spirit of mutual benefit and co-operation, and win-win co-operation, and has always had the strong support of Britain and France.”
She added that China “hopes that Britain can reach a decision as soon as possible, to ensure the project’s smooth implementation”.
Britain and EDF reached a broad commercial agreement on the plant in 2013.
China became involved last year when Downing Street hosted a state visit for President Xi Jinping.
The plant would become Britain’s first new nuclear power station for 20 years, with a total cost of £18bn, and is expected to supply 7% of the UK’s electricity needs and create 25,000 jobs.
There has been criticism of the guaranteed price EDF would be paid for power produced at Hinkley – £92.50 per unit of electricity.
Doubts have also been cast over EDF’s ability to deliver the project, sparked by the resignation of board member Gerard Magnin on Thursday.