When American executives at the Beijing branch of a US technology company need to discuss innovations created back home, they go to a park — without their phones — in the hope that their conversation will not be monitored by Chinese colleagues or state security. Such measures are familiar to expats in China, where local partners and the government have sought to secure foreign technology by fair means or foul. As China takes bolder steps on the global stage, bidding for an electricity network in Australia and proposed nuclear power stations in Britain, fears have deepened about the state-run programme of industrial espionage overseas by which Beijing seeks commercial and political advantage. Intelligence sources confirmed that the key issue in the review of Hinkley and its related projects is China, not cost, the future price of its electricity nor the reliability of the reactors. China’s appetite for stealing sensitive information is now so comprehensive that the US has launched a programme to safeguard its secrets. Companies are given regular briefings to keep them abreast of the latest methods used by China, Russia and others to steal or sabotage American products.The Chinese can sell and deploy systems that are free of anything that it would even be logically possible to detect, and at any stage in the life of the power station introduce such means by which the system could be attacked (or be programmed to fail) at a later date, with minimal chance of detection at that stage.”
Times 13th Aug 2016 read more »
Ben Chu: Stop worrying about China’s nuclear investment – it will not compromise our national security. Ho is being prosecuted by the US Justice Department, accused of stealing US nuclear technology secrets on behalf of the China General Nuclear Power (CGN) company. He is alleged to have tapped up six nuclear experts in the US to funnel information to CGN with the alleged aim of speeding up the development of reactor technology in China. The US indictment stresses that CGN is a state-owned company and answers to Beijing’s State Council. To anyone who knows anything about the Chinese economy, the fact that a nuclear power company has close links to the Beijing government is as startling as the revelation that pandas occasionally defecate in bamboo groves. Assuming there is something in the case against Ho, how should our own government respond? Some have already called on Theresa May to pull the plug on the Hinkley deal and to follow the example of the Australian government which this week blocked Chinese investors from buying the country’s largest electricity network on national security grounds. There are good reasons for Downing Street to reconsider the Hinkley deal, not least the exorbitant cost the electricity purchasing deal signed by the Coalition would likely impose on UK households over the next 40 or so years. But to tear up the agreement on the basis of the Ho charges would seem like an overreaction. The idea that the Chinese state will install computer programmes to shut down UK nuclear energy supplies in future, as Nick Timothy suggested might happen in a blog for Conservative Home last year, seems like something out of a Fu Manchu thriller. As Lord Mandelson has said, it would be “commercial global suicide” for China to sabotage its own investment in this way. One shouldn’t underestimate the brutishness, or even incompetence, of the Chinese Communist Party. But at the same time it’s worth considering this from the perspective of Beijing. The irony is that the Chinese could be purloining know-how from the Americans to help us keep the lights on here in the UK because our own governments have failed to invest enough in developing our domestic nuclear construction capability.
Independent 13th Aug 2016 read more »