Newspaper headlines: China's role in nuclear power and CCTV analysed

There is little enthusiasm in Friday's papers for the terms under which the government approved the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, to be built by France with Chinese financial backing.

Its best reception is in the Financial Times, which says the compromise decision was hailed as "sensible" at the Treasury and calmed the nerves of Foreign Office diplomats fearful of antagonising China.

"The Hinkley Point nuclear deal is a dismal one for Britain. But it's done now," the Sun concludes, adding: "For once, Britain has actually given a major infrastructure project the go-ahead."

Image copyright AFP

But the paper's editorial enumerates the concerns felt to some extent by every paper: the "extortionate subsidy" to be paid by electricity users; the "unproven technology", and the "obvious security implications" of Chinese involvement.

Obvious these implications may be; but explanations of quite what the threat is are sparse.

The Daily Mail quotes a nuclear expert as saying one Chinese company involved in the project is being "pursued in the US for nuclear spying".


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Image caption Nigel Farage got himself photographed with the tank in Trafalgar Square

Tank centenary

  • The Telegraph is among papers picturing a World War 1 tank called "Big Brute" in Trafalgar Square marking a 100 years since the vehicle's invention.
  • Retiring UKIP leader Nigel Farage is pictured with the tank in the Daily Express and Daily Star.
  • A modern army Challenger tank later went on show alongside Big Brute on Horse Guards Parade, reports the Mail.
  • The Times says there are calls for more tanks for the Army, which has just 168 of them - fewer than it has horses.

According to the Times, the government says it plans new measures to meet "concerns about espionage or China gaining powers to remotely switch off UK energy supplies."

The Telegraph claims that the security services will "be given a veto" over foreign investment in critical infrastructure projects.

It says "spies" will "vet foreign firms before they invest in UK". But elsewhere it says only that the spies will be "consulted" before foreign countries are allowed to sign major contracts.

Most papers report that the government will have powers to limit sell-offs of major infrastructure assets. It may be that this is more of a risk because of the French company EDF, with its precarious finances, than the Chinese.

The Daily Mirror quotes former Chancellor Lord Lawson, who said the government was "throwing out a lifeline to EDF , which is on the verge of bankruptcy",


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According to the Times the dangers of offending the French were "even more grave" than the affront to China if the deal had been scrapped, because of looming negotiations over Brexit.

On the latter subject, the Telegraph says senior EU officials believe Britain can be made to abandon Brexit plans if they are tough enough in their negotiating stance.

The paper reports that "at least five" prominent EU figures whom it interviewed expressed doubts that Britain would go through with Brexit.

The Times says diplomats agree that the EU will "come out fighting" when negotiations begin, and EU countries insist there should be no "illusions that exiting will be advantageous or without cost".

But it adds that some member states wish to give Britain more leeway on free movement of labour than countries such as Norway or Switzerland, and Germany wants an agreement which does not "throw up tariff obstacles to trade".

Most titles also report EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's claim that the Brexit vote can be explained by "lies" and "half-truths" and criticism of the EU fed to the public "over 40 years".

And several quote UKIP MP Douglas Carswell's retort that Mr Juncker's "disdain" for British people's views "beautifully explains why we were right to leave".


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Media captionKate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent at the Telegraph, and Martha Gill, Political Reporter at the Huffington Post, joined the BBC News Channel to review Friday's front pages.

The Telegraph claims the £18bn price tag commonly attached to the Hinkley Point project is roughly the same figure that the BBC will receive "from the taxpayer" between now and 2021-22.

Amid much discussion in the press of what the BBC must do under its new charter, the Telegraph says the corporation should not "use its generous subsidy to coast along unchanged" but must "produce distinctive, critically-acclaimed programming."

In common with other papers, the Sun says the BBC will cap "monster pay-offs" to departing executives. It says there will be a limit of £90,000 (It will be £95,000, according to the Mail).


Image copyright AP

The fab two

  • Almost every paper carries pictures of the two surviving Beatles, Ringo Starr and Sir Paul McCartney, at the launch of a documentary about the pop group's early touring years.
  • The film, Eight Days a Week, is "uncontroversial to say the least, but hugely enjoyable," says the Times critic Kate Muir.
  • According to the Daily Express, Sir Paul said he hoped to "hear ourselves for the first time - we couldn't hear ourselves live because there was so much screaming going on."
  • The Telegraph quotes him as saying the film brought back many memories and made him "very emotional".
  • The Daily Mail says the septuagenarian ex-Beatles defied their years "with a little help from their hair stylists".

Another area of Chinese involvement in the British economy, quite separate from the nuclear industry, is reported on by the Times.

The paper claims Hikvision, a company which it says is controlled by the Chinese government, has sold more than a million close-circuit TV cameras and recorders to British customers, which have been installed at sites in this country including airports and government establishments.

According to the Times, the firm offers "significantly lower prices" than its competitors and has won 14% of the UK video surveillance market in just four years.

It says there are calls for greater supervision of Chinese businesses operating in the UK, and claims there has been no "national security assessment" of the firm's UK operations.


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