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Big energy consumers pledge to co-operate

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-18 09:01
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Nuke deal

Meanwhile, China and the United States on Saturday signed an agreement that paves the way for US-based Westinghouse Electric Co to build four civilian nuclear reactors in China, a multi-billion dollar deal that edged out French and Russian competitors in a two-year battle.

A memorandum of understanding on the transfer of nuclear technology to China was signed by Ma and US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

The agreement capped several days of top-level talks between the two countries.

Both sides hailed the deal as a major step towards enhancing relations between the world's two biggest energy consumers, who have clashed over a range of issues, from theRMBexchange rate to a Chinese bid for American oil firm Unocal last year.

"This project of co-operation will certainly play a very important role in enhancing the co-operative partnership between China and the US," Ma said.

Stephen Tritch, Westinghouse's president, said the details of the contract to build facilities at Sanmen, in East China'sZhejiangProvince, and at Yangjiang in South China'sGuangdongProvince have yet to be finalized. He said the company wants the plants to be operational by 2013.

NDRC confirmed on its website that it chose Westinghouse's AP1000 technology after "careful appraisal."

Both Russian and French competitors had lobbied hard for the deal. Sources said the country chose Westinghouse based on its technology, its agreement on transferring expertise, the style of co-operation and the prospects for developing locally-based technology.

AP1000, a third generation nuclear technology, relies on gravity rather than mechanical pumps to carry water to a reactor in an emergency.

Westinghouse, US engineering and construction services contractor Shaw Group Inc, which holds a 20 per cent stake in Westinghouse, and China's State Nuclear Power Technology Co also signed a companion agreement to follow through with negotiations on specific terms for the technology transfer.

The deal with China will create more than 5,000 jobs in the United States, Bodman said, helping to redress the mammoth US trade deficit with China.

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