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China President's India visit: Nuclear power cooperation may come up during Xi's tour


Beijing (Sept 14, 2014): Nuclear cooperation may be discussed during President Xi Jinping's visit to India next week with China looking to become a world leader in atomic power by 2020.

Under an ambitious scheme to be finalised by April, China aims to become a world leader in nuclear power by 2020, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted China's National Energy Administration director Wu Xinxiong as saying.

Wu's comments assumes significance as China's Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao has said that China and India "were interested in nuclear energy cooperation" and would act "in accordance with the international rules".

Liu said so last week at a briefing in connection with Xi's upcoming visit but did not elaborate.

China which is a new entrant to the 1000 MW nuclear technology club says it could provide cheaper nuclear reactors compared to Japan and other countries.

Beijing is committed to build its first overseas 1000 MW reactor at Karachi which evoked criticism from India and the US as Pakistan has not got exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

China has 15 nuclear power-generating units, most built with foreign technology, in operation with a total installed capacity of 12.54 GW and the country hopes to build 200 nuclear plants besides speeding up construction of 29 new plants currently being built.

China's demand for nuclear plants will reach 200, with four to six new ones being approved annually before 2015, Jian Jingwen, deputy head of the equipment department at the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation said earlier.

The number will reach 10 plants every year after 2020, he said adding that nuclear power capacity is sought to be increased from 10.7 gigawatts in 2010 to 160 gigawatts in 2040.

Wu told more than 100 scientific and engineering advisors in Beijing that the plan should meet the central government's demand that China make the leap from follower to leader by engineering "major technological breakthroughs" and "industrial upgrades", the Post report said.

To take the lead, China will have to overcome some big hurdles, including conflicts of interest among large state-owned companies, technological uncertainties in new-generation power plants and public concerns about nuclear safety, Wu said.