Aug 11, 2016

Australia risks Chinese anger over power grid sale

Australia's decision to preliminarily block Chinese and Hong Kong bidders from taking a controlling stake in Ausgrid, the country's largest Australia network, over national security concerns, is likely to be met with outrage and indignation in China. The Chinese don't like being snubbed.

That's not surprising - after all, who likes being dumped? And this is starting to look like a recurring pattern. Australia's move comes as the UK has postponed approval for the Hinkley point nuclear power project, in which China's General Nuclear Power Corp will have a minority stake, on similar concerns.

CGN is also accused of leading a conspiracy to steal American power industry secrets to speed up the development and production of Chinese reactor technology. Szuhsiung Ho, a senior adviser to CGN, is due in court in the US next week, and is accused of recruiting American experts to obtain sensitive nuclear technology for China, in a plot that prosecutors say threatened US security.
But the UK's snub has already had serious consequences - verbally at least. Writing in the Financial Times, China's ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaming has said the delay to approving the plant had brought the two countries to a "crucial historical juncture."
He hinted that "mutual trust" could be in jeopardy if the UK government decided not to approve the deal.


BBC News
Karishma Vaswani
Asia business correspondent