China mulls nuke plants in disputed sea

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BEIJING: China may build mobile nuclear power plants in the South China Sea, state media reported on Friday, days after an international tribunal dismissed Beijing’s vast claims in the strategically vital waters.

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“Marine nuclear power platform construction will be used to support China’s effective control in the South China Sea,” the website of the state-run Global Times cited the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) as saying on a social media account.

The website cited the report as saying that “marine nuclear power platforms will be used” in the islands and reefs of the Spratly chain in the contested sea “to ensure freshwater.”

The original report was deleted from CNNC’s account on social media platform WeChat on Friday, and a staffer at the firm told Agence France-Presse that it “needed to confirm” its accuracy.

“In the past, the freshwater provision to troops stationed in the South China Sea could not be guaranteed, and could only be provided by boats delivering barrels of water,” the Global Times cited the report as saying.

“In the future, as the South China Sea electricity and power system is strengthened, China will speed up the commercial development of the South China Sea region,” it said.

China has rapidly built up reefs in the sea into artificial islands in recent months, installing civilian and military facilities on them.

The report comes after a Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal on Tuesday backed the Philippines’ case that there was no legal basis for Beijing’s maritime claims, which extend almost to the coasts of neighboring states.

It also found that China’s activities had inflicted severe damage to fragile coral ecosystems and caused serious harm to endangered species.

China has insisted that it will ignore the decision while warning its rivals that increasing pressure on the issue could turn the resource-rich waters into a “cradle of war.”

The state-backed website The Paper on Friday quoted China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) engineer Zhu Hanchao as saying that 20 marine nuclear platforms were in development.

But Zhu added that they would be deployed to oilfields in the Bohai Sea off China’s northeast coast, not in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

CSIC could not immediately be reached for comment.

Beijing included the development of two marine nuclear power plants, to be built by
CNNC and the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) respectively, in its five-year plan for 2016-2020, both companies announced this year.

It did not specify where the marine facilities would be constructed.

The CNNC plant is expected to start operation in 2019 and CGN’s the following year, according to their statements.

Nuclear power is already used at sea for aircraft carriers and submarines, but doing so for civilian purposes appears to be unprecedented.

A similar Russian project is reportedly already under construction.

AFP

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4 Comments

  1. Global Times often shoots off ideas. A nuclear power plant requires a huge team of highly-trained technicians and generates much more power than those islands could use, even for desalination. It also requires a big capital investment and big chunk of land.

    Even Hainan Island has but a single NPP.

    At the present state of NPP technology, I doubt that China will commit the necessary workers to that when they can make much better use of the workers elsewhere. Not to mention those workers could actually see their families every day.

    The motivation for this idea is to try to prove, UNCLOS-style, that their artificial islands are self-sustaining. But who will sign the check?

  2. Never trust the motives of those mainlanders. They say one thing but their actions say otherwise.

  3. This is a slap on the face of not only the Philippines but also on the UN PCA,after its ruling.

    What can we do now?

    The international bodies should step in now. China should be isolated and be treated with sanctions from all the other countries. I know this is easier said than done.

  4. Philippines should take China to International Court of Justice this time to stop further development on these fake islands, especially its proposed nuclear power plant, as they could potentially further harm the marine environment in the West Philippine Sea and besides that these fake islands are illegal in the first place. Furthermore, China is in violation of the12th July 2016 PCA’s ruling on the case the Philippines brought against China under the UNCLOS with regards to the legality of China’s nine dash line and the construction of the fake islands and harm to the marine environment during the construction process.