China aims to build 30 nuclear reactors in Silk Road countries by 2030

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BEIJING – China should seize the opportunities offered by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and give more financial and political support to its nuclear sector.

“Nuclear power has already become a state strategy, and nuclear exports will help optimize our export trade and free up high quality domestic production capacity,” senior expert Wang Shoujun said during a conference on the issue.

To take full advantage of China’s “comprehensive advantages” in costs and technology, Beijing should improve research and development, locate the production of essential nuclear components, and increase domestic and foreign nuclear markets, Wang suggests.

Profit of up to 1 trillion yuan

Wang said that the country could build up to 30 nuclear reactors abroad in the next decade through its involvement in BRI, which could generate for Chinese companies up to 1 trillion Yuan ($145 billion) by 2030.

He points out that 41 nations of the New Silk Road already have nuclear power programs or are planning to develop them, noting that Beijing only needs to secure a 20 percent stake in the market to create five million new jobs in the industry.

The Chinese BRI megaproject was announced in 2013 by China’s President Xi Jinping and currently covers 152 countries around the world. BRI is expected to significantly boost global trade and halve trade costs for the states involved.

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Xi said in April that $64 billion in deals were signed at the summit of Belt and Road Initiative and that more nations will join the global infrastructure program.

Xi and 37 world leaders closed the summit of the project, also known as New Silk Road, in Beijing.

“We are committed to supporting open, clean and green development and reject protectionism,” Xi told reporters.

The project is its flagship in foreign policy and aims to reinvent the old Silk Road to connect Asia to Europe and Africa through massive investments in maritime, road and rail projects – with hundreds of billions of dollars in funding from Chinese banks.

But critics say the six-year plan is a plan to boost Beijing’s global influence, fraught with opaque agreements that favor Chinese companies and burden nations with debt and environmental damage.

The US, India and some European nations view the initiative with suspicion.

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