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China to Be Leader in Nuclear Energy: US Energy Secretary

Outgoing US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Friday China would emerge as a leader in nuclear energy and called for further cooperation between the two countries in developing alternative sources of power.

China's aim to expand its nuclear power generation capability and moves to embrace the newest generation of nuclear reactors were very impressive, he said.

"China is going to emerge in this century as a global leader in nuclear energy," he said during a two-day visit to Beijing.

"We hope we can learn more from your progress in this area so that it might be possible for us in America to see an expansion of nuclear energy in the years ahead," said Abraham, who is due to be replaced by US Treasury Deputy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

China, struggling with power shortages that pose a threat to economic growth, has outlined an ambitious plan to build dozens of reactors over the next couple of decades and quadruple its nuclear power capacity to 36,000 megawatts by 2020.

The government hopes nuclear power will account for about 4 percent of total output by 2020 from around 1.7 percent.

A senior US official said in October the US Government would likely approve the reactor sale to China in the next few months.

Approval would be a victory for Pittsburgh-based, British-owned Westinghouse Electric Co., which applied in February to build two of its 1,100 megawatt, next-generation AP1000 reactors in China.

Abraham said it was essential that China and the United States work together to ensure adequate global energy supplies given they accounted for a third of world energy consumption.

China and the United States had agreed in January to form a US -- China Energy Policy Dialogue to enhance bilateral cooperation in areas including energy efficiency and renewable energy, he said.

"We are now preparing to move forward on a policy level," Abraham said, adding this initially meant building on the work of international partnerships to which China and the United States already belong.

(Shenzhen Daily via agencies December 20, 2004)

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