US Congress must renew nuclear cooperation pact

Updated: 2015-05-30 07:43

By Wang Hui(China Daily)

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As a country that relies heavily on fossil fuels, China sees nuclear energy as an important means to diversify its energy structure. While fossil fuels account for 70 percent of its energy mix, the annual consumption of coal alone is 3.6 billion tons. This shows China is under intense pressure to protect the environment.

According to the national blueprint for energy development between 2014 and 2020, China's installed capacity for nuclear energy will reach 58 million kilowatts by 2020. In this regard, Sino-US cooperation in nuclear power can help China's nuclear energy sector benefit from high-quality US services, such as smooth construction and operation of related projects.

In November 2014, China and the US signed a landmark joint statement on climate change during Obama's visit to China. The two countries announced their post-2020 goals of addressing climate change and vowed to deepen cooperation in the clean energy sector.

Extension of the 123 Agreement by, say, another 30 years, will immensely benefit the US, for it can make huge gains by selling more nuclear power services to China while honoring its pledge to fight climate change.

Gone are the days when China was constrained by technological bottlenecks. The government has been promoting innovation and investing heavily in research and development. In the nuclear power field, efforts to develop technology at home began paying dividends when China started work on a pilot nuclear power project earlier this month using Hualong One technology, a homegrown third-generation reactor design, which elevates China to the ranks of countries with advanced nuclear technology.

As such, the US' reluctance to transfer nuclear power technology is shortsighted. Those who still doubt the outcome of Sino-US cooperation in nuclear power need to look at the larger picture of bilateral ties, particularly the two countries' joint commitment to fighting climate change.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.

(China Daily 05/30/2015 page5)

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