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China's Swift Nuclear Expansion: Implications for US Dominance and Global Security

China's Swift Nuclear Expansion: Implications for US Dominance and Global Security

China's Swift Nuclear Growth Poses a Threat to US Dominance

China is rapidly rising to become the world's top nuclear energy producer, which is causing alarm for US competitiveness. The Asian giant's plans for floating nuclear plants in the contentious South China Sea are causing friction with neighboring nations. Additionally, China and Russia's collaborative project to construct a nuclear reactor on the moon is raising safety and militarization concerns.

China's Nuclear Energy Expansion

China's swift nuclear energy expansion has rivals on edge. As nuclear energy gains renewed interest globally as a reliable power source for a decarbonized future, it's also becoming a geopolitical battleground. In the race to secure a strategic position in the rapidly evolving energy landscape, becoming a nuclear energy powerhouse has become crucial for world superpowers. Currently, China is leading this race.

US Losing Its Grip on Nuclear Power

For decades, the United States has been the largest nuclear power generator in the world. However, the American market has significantly slowed in recent years, while Beijing has aggressively pursued deployment, adding an impressive 34 gigawatts of nuclear energy capacity over the last decade. Consequently, China is poised to surpass the United States and France to become the world's largest producer of nuclear energy within the decade. China currently operates 55 nuclear power reactors, compared to the United States' 94. However, China already has 23 new reactors under construction and more in the pipeline. Remarkably, it took China just a decade to add the same amount of nuclear capacity that the United States took four decades to build.

China's Nuclear Reactor Approval Rate

Beijing has the ability to approve new nuclear reactors much faster than the United States, at an astonishing rate of ten new plant approvals per year. Chinese plants are also much cheaper to build, partly due to preferential loans with particularly favorable terms from state-owned banks. While the United States has recently made efforts to revive its own stalled nuclear energy sector, its newest power plant is so behind schedule and over budget that nuclear energy advocates fear it might derail the nation's nuclear ambitions altogether.

Global Reactions to China's Nuclear Expansion

While China's rapid increase in nuclear energy deployment is excellent for the nation's decarbonization potential, and therefore beneficial for the world's ability to meet mid-century climate goals, China's aggressive approach has unsettled many world leaders. US policymakers have expressed concern that China's rapidly growing nuclear energy capacities could enable it to export nuclear reactors on a large scale, ultimately undermining U.S. foreign relations with the importing countries. This would be a continuation of China's already extensive expansion of energy influence in emerging markets.

China's Plans for the South China Sea

Furthermore, China's plans to install floating nuclear power plants in the South China Sea have heightened tensions with Southeast Asian neighbors. China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines all have overlapping claims to parts of the sea, which China claims almost entirely, despite a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejecting Beijing's claim as having no legal basis. Ignoring this ruling, China has continued to reclaim land to build artificial islands in the Sea and now plans to send about 20 floating nuclear power plants to some of those islands. Experts have widely criticized these plans, warning that China's planned deployment of floating nuclear reactors to the disputed South China Sea could exacerbate tensions with other claimants and undermine regional security. There is also legitimate concern that China will use these plants to power military operations in the conflicted region, which would violate international law.

China's Extraterrestrial Nuclear Ambitions

China's ambitious nuclear plans are not confined to its own borders, or even to the earth. Earlier this year, Moscow and Beijing announced joint plans to put a nuclear reactor on the moon within the next decade. Russian state media even claims that the development of the plant is already underway, and Russia and China are currently working on experimental and research facilities for the project.

Final Thoughts

China's rapid nuclear expansion is certainly a cause for concern for the United States and other nations. The potential for geopolitical power shifts and the potential risk of militarization are issues that need to be addressed. What are your thoughts on this matter? Do share this article with your friends and let us know your views. Don't forget to sign up for the Daily Briefing, which is every day at 6 pm.

Some articles will contain credit or partial credit to other authors even if we do not repost the article and are only inspired by the original content.

Some articles will contain credit or partial credit to other authors even if we do not repost the article and are only inspired by the original content.

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