06:25 GMT +313 December 2019
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    A member of staff stands behind flags as officials arrive for the UK-China High Level Financial Services Roundtable at the Bank of China head office building in Beijing on July 22, 2016

    China-UK 'Golden Age' in Doubt as Beijing Warns London Over Hinkley Delays

    © AFP 2019 / DAMIR SAGOLJ
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    China has warned that its relations with the UK are at a "crucial historical juncture" amid concerns over the future of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

    The warning, from China's ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, came after UK Prime Minister Theresa May decided to further delay the Hinkley Point project, reportedly over security concerns, associated with Chinese investment in the nuclear plant.

    "If Britain's openness is a condition for bilateral co-operation, then mutual trust is the very foundation on which this is built," Liu wrote in the Financial Times.

    ​"Right now, the China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture. Mutual trust should be treasured even more. I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point — and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly."

    UK Security, Trade

    While not publicly commenting on the reasons for the delay in the project, it has been reported that British PM May has serious security concerns about Chinese involvement in the project.

    The Hinkley Point plans will see French state-owned company EDF construct the nuclear plant with the significant Chinese investment, and is expected to create 25,000 jobs in Britain.

    ​The delay has not only angered unions, but also called into question the future of UK-Chinese relations, which had been heavily promoted by former Prime Minister David Cameron.

    British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) gestures as he drinks a pint of beer with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a pub in Princess Risborough near Chequers, northwest of London, on October 22, 2015
    © AFP 2019 / Kirsty Wigglesworth
    British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) gestures as he drinks a pint of beer with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a pub in Princess Risborough near Chequers, northwest of London, on October 22, 2015

    Critics have also raised concerns that any decision to delay the project could damage Britain's post-Brexit reputation as a reliable, open trading partner, as the UK seeks to fond new trade deals outside of the EU.

    ​China's ambassador Liu pointed to the increase in Chinese investment in Britain in recent years, noting that it "has not been easy for China and the UK to have come this far."

    ​"As long as both sides cherish what has been achieved and continue to expand and deepen our co-operation across the board, bilateral relations will maintain their strong momentum and work for the wellbeing of both the Chinese and British people," Liu said.

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    Tags:
    Hinkley Point, security concerns, nuclear power plant, foreign investment, trade, diplomacy, EdF, Liu Xiaoming, David Cameron, Theresa May, China, United Kingdom, England, France
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