Berlin — Negotiations between the European Union and China on an investment agreement have stalled at the last stretch because China is raising additional demands on nuclear energy, German magazine WirtschaftsWoche reported on Wednesday.
The issue of nuclear power is controversial among EU countries because such investments could put sensitive infrastructure under Chinese control.
“China wants to invest in European nuclear power plants and use Chinese technology in this area,” WirtschaftsWoche cited EU sources as saying.
During the negotiations, China had indicated to its European counterparts that it viewed its own technology in this field as more advanced, the report said.
Several EU member states reject nuclear energy or have decided to withdraw from the technology within the next few years.
The EU and China aim to reach an investment accord by the end of the year that would grant European companies greater access to the Chinese market, according to German and EU officials.
The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment would put most EU companies on an equal footing in China, potentially a big step in repairing Sino-European ties after the coronavirus outbreak in China and Beijing’s crackdown on dissent in the former British colony of Hong Kong.
The deal could complicate transatlantic relations with the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.
Jake Sullivan, the designated National Security Adviser in Biden’s team, tweeted earlier this week that Washington would welcome early consultations with its European partners on “our common concerns about China’s economic practices”.
China fears being isolated from the West as the United States steps up its trade war with Beijing and Brussels has taken steps to monitor Chinese investment in strategic European sectors more closely.
Other big sticking points in sealing the investment pact relate to sustainable development and human rights issues such as forced labour in China, according to Western diplomats.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Nick Macfie)