China’s tech deal for a £50m lab in Manchester will be halted in weeks over national security concerns over sharing UK’s nuclear secrets
- Former Chancellor George Osborne announced it with much fanfare in 2015
- UK National Nuclear Laboratory would help China National Nuclear Corporation
- But the Mail has been informed that the £50m research hub is to be demolished
A technology partnership between Britain and China must be halted over national security fears over sharing nuclear secrets.
Former Chancellor George Osborne announced in 2015 with great fanfare that the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory would partner with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) on technology development.
The Joint Innovation and Research Center was unveiled in Manchester with an initial pledge of £25m in cash from the government. Another £25 million was set aside by the Chinese government to fund the lab.
But the Mail has been informed that the £50million research center will be demolished in the coming weeks after Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng raised concerns about risks to national security.
Former Chancellor George Osborne announced in 2015 with great fanfare that the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory would be partnering with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) in technology development
It comes after MI5 raised growing concerns about such partnerships with China. It was announced by Mr Osborne during his infamous trade mission to Beijing in September 2015, when he said Britain should “run for China”, in what he predicted would be “a golden decade for both of our countries”.
Six years later, the idea of sharing technology in such a sensitive area with a hostile state has been described as a “colossal mistake.”
The hub is designed for ‘joint technology development in areas such as advanced reactors, fuel, manufacturing, decommissioning, waste management and digital reactor technology’.
The National Nuclear Laboratory had said it would “take up projects in a number of different areas of work across the nuclear fuel cycle” and establish relationships with “key UK universities working in the nuclear sector”.
It was announced by Mr Osborne during his infamous trade mission to Beijing in September 2015, when he said Britain should “run for China”, in what he predicted would be “a golden decade for both of our countries”.
The research agreement, signed in 2016 by then-energy secretary Amber Rudd, was initially agreed for a five-year term and the center was unveiled that year.
The deal struck during David Cameron’s reign was one of several partnerships between the two nations. But growing concerns about China’s domestic and foreign policies have forced ministers to reassess a number of agreements with Chinese state-owned enterprises.
Last year, the government banned the involvement of Chinese company Huawei in the 5G wireless network, whose kit is to be removed by 2027 due to security concerns. And the US has blacklisted the CNNC for alleged ties to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Yesterday, an intelligence source said: ‘The partnership was a red flag security risk and exactly the kind of project we should end.
“It’s mind-boggling how this got through back then, but in the current climate it’s a matter of national security.”
An announcement about the shutdown will be made in the coming weeks, but the Post has been informed that all joint work has already been suspended, partly due to the pandemic.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘George Osborne has become a great apologist for the flaws of what was naively described as the golden age of relationships that gave the Chinese government access to British technology, making us more dependent on an autocratic government that commit genocide. on its own people.
“When did they realize this was a colossal mistake? What worries me is that we are now dependent on the Chinese in our nuclear industry.’
Research by the Henry Jackson Society think tank last year found that the UK relies on goods from China in 57 areas of critical national infrastructure. Yesterday, a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy declined to comment.