Australia blocks China bid for biggest power network

The Australian government has said security concerns were behind its decision to block Chinese bidders from taking a controlling interest in the country’s largest electricity network.

The move comes less than a month after the UK government postponed approval of construction of the £18 billion Hinkley Point nuclear power project, in which China’s General Nuclear Power Corporation (GNP) will have a third stake, reportedly over similar security concerns.

It was also revealed in The Times on Thursday that nuclear engineer Allen Ho, a joint US-Chinese citizen working for GNP, and the company itself had been charged with industrial espionage by unlawfully conspiring to develop nuclear material in China without US approval and “with the intent to secure an advantage to the People’s Republic of China”.

Assistant US Attorney-General John P Carlin said, “Allen Ho, at the direction of a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company, allegedly approached and enlisted US-based nuclear experts to provide integral assistance in developing and producing special nuclear material in China.”