China lobbying to obtain French nuclear technology for 'debt-trap diplomacy': Report

ANI
·3-min read
Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron
Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron

Paris [France], October 31 (ANI): China has intensified lobbying and "backchannel negotiation" in its attempts to obtain billions of dollars of nuclear technology, which it can use as a new tool in its "debt-trap diplomacy", according to US-based news organisation The Klaxon.

The Chinese government under the "guise of ameliorating Franco-Sino bilateral relations" has recently intensified lobbying campaign targeting important French politicians in an increasingly "frenetic bid to obtain billions of dollars of nuclear technology", which intelligence sources fear Beijing will use to expand its global influence and undermine global security.

Senior intelligence sources said Beijing was currently "lobbying hard" in order to secure a future visit by Macron in the recent future.

Beijing was "engaging in political diplomacy and back-channel negotiations" in a fierce bid to arrange a visit to China by French President Emmanuel Macron to China in the near future, The Klaxon reported citing high level US intelligence sources.

China is seeking to "rekindle a 10-billion euro deal" between China and French Government-controlled nuclear energy giant Orano, which stalled in late 2018, partly due to serious security concerns raised behind-the-scenes by France's national security agency, the Secretariat General for Defence and National Security (SGDSN).

The Chinese government was also seeking to exploit France's recent change in Prime Ministers -- with Jean Castex having replaced Edouard Philipe as French Prime Minister -- on July 3, one senior intelligence source said.

The China National Nuclear Corporation, a state-owned body which oversees all China's military and civilian nuclear programs, has been actively seeking French technology for over a decade.

China's ambitions were strongly advanced in June 2018 when during the visit of Philipe to China. He had signed a preliminary deal between Orano and China National Nuclear Corporation, however, that deal was for "preparatory work" only, and it expired at the end of 2018.

"With the change in the French leadership, the Chinese are currently lobbying hard to arrange a visit of Macron to China....so that negotiations on restoration of the nuclear project could begin among other agreements that could be reached between the two countries," a senior intelligence source told The Klaxon.

Beijing is hoping the departure of the China-linked Philipe will help public appearances and help it to now get the deal away, giving it access to the "sensitive" nuclear technology.

China has long had nuclear weapons, however, what it is seeking from France is state-of-the-art nuclear power plant technology, which is used in electricity generation.

French and US intelligence agencies are concerned Beijing will exploit the technology by using it as a major tool in its expansionist "debt-trap diplomacy" operations.

"The project has been stuck because of serious concerns expressed by the Secretariat General for Defence and National Security," one senior US intelligence source told The Klaxon.

"The agency raised concerns mainly on China's possible sharing of the sensitive technology to countries in order to gain future nuclear energy projects using its tactics of using predatory loans and debt trap to nations seeking nuclear power."

France and China have been in discussions regarding the deal between China National Nuclear Corporation and Orano since it was first proposed over a decade ago.

The project was discussed by Macron on a visit to China in January 2018, with his Prime Minister, Philipe, signing the "preparatory work" agreement five months later.

Intelligence sources say that if France were to sign the deal it would give Beijing powerful, state-of-the-art technology that it could use as a lure to financially entrap smaller and poorer countries seeking nuclear power. (ANI)