Irish Sun Sunday 24th April, 2016
• China has built radar systems, lighthouses, barracks, ports and airfields on South China Sea
• China needs floating nuclear power plants to power the structures
• Six Pacific nations have have territorial claims in the South China Sea
BEIJING, China - China’s state-run newspaper Global Times has reported that the country is developing floating nuclear power plants to power its man-made islands on the disputed South China Sea.
The country has built radar systems, lighthouses, barracks, ports and airfields on its contentious man-made island chain in the South China Sea and reportedly powers the structures from the country’s power grid hundreds of miles away.
However, the newspaper reported that in a bid to provide electricity to remote locations including offshore oil platforms and the man-made islands, a state-owned company, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), is planning to build a fleet of the vessels.
The paper is said to have quoted a company executive, Liu Zhengguo, as saying that "demand is pretty strong" for the floating power stations.
Liu claimed in the report, “The development of nuclear power platforms is a burgeoning trend” that would be used for “civilian” purposes.
The report further cited Li Jie, an expert who told the newspaper such nuclear platforms could fuel “lighthouses, seawater desalination, rescue and relief equipment, defensive weapons and airports and harbors on islands in the South China Sea.”
He is said to have added, “Normally we have to burn oil or coal for power. Given the long distance between the Nansha Islands and the Chinese mainland and the changing weather and oceanic conditions, transporting fuel could be an issue, which is why developing the maritime nuclear power platform is of great significance.”
The report specified that the director of the China Atomic Energy Authority, Xu Dazhe had told the country’s media in January that the country was developing nuclear power-generating capacity as part of China’s five-year economic development plan.
Global Times quoted Tang Bo, an official at China's National Nuclear Safety Administration as saying that typhoons regularly cross the South China Sea, and ships and submarines that run on nuclear power generally have the means to quickly sail away from a storm.
Bo said in the report that it is unclear how mobile or seaworthy these reactor ships will be, adding that safety regulations for the seaborne reactors are being drawn up and reviewed.
Reports said that the Asian nation has more civilian nuclear power stations under construction than any other country.
China’s construction of the artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea has led to rising tension in the area, prompting the U.S. to assert its right to transit the area freely by sailing Navy ships close to the islands.
Six Pacific nations including Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have territorial claims in the South China Sea that is believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas and also witness over $5 trillion in global ship-borne trade passing by each year.