South China Sea on a Boil
Is China Building Floating Nuclear Plants for the South China Sea?

According to a Chinese state media outlet, China has been working to build floating nuclear power plants which might be stationed in the South China Sea. Reuters:

The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said the nuclear power platforms could “sail” to remote areas and provide a stable power supply.

China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, the company in charge of designing and building the platforms, is “pushing forward the work”, said Liu Zhengguo, the head of its general office.

“The development of nuclear power platforms is a burgeoning trend,” Liu told the paper. “The exact number of plants to be built by the company depends on the market demand.”

Demand is “pretty strong”, he added, without elaborating.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying played down the story as a media report, however.

“I’ve not heard here of the relevant situation,” Hua told a daily news briefing, without elaborating.

Nuclear power plants on tankers? These kinds of rumors are of a piece with earlier talk of China building giant floating bases for use in the South China Sea. Those reports were loosely sourced somewhat outlandish Chinese propaganda as well. Nevertheless, the report is a reminder of China’s abiding intent to construct extensive and sophisticated infrastructure across the islands it is claiming for its own.

Speaking in Vietnam on Thursday, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized China, and encouraged Beijing to respect an international court ruling on South China Sea territorial rights in a case brought by the Philippines. Recent events have made it pretty clear China doesn’t worry about what the U.S. thinks these days, so it’s difficult to imagine these latest comments even made Beijing blink.

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