Chinese firm blocked from accessing critical information on UK power grid


The British government has blocked a Chinese company from accessing classified information about the UK power grid. Concerns about Beijing’s involvement in critical infrastructure in the West are growing.

Redrock Investment Limited, a subsidiary of China’s state-owned State Development & Investment Corporation (SDIC), will acquire a 35% stake in Electricity North West (ENW), the operator of a network that distributes electricity to the northwest of England. is.

In a “Final Order” issued on September 29, Commerce Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said the deal poses risks to Britain’s national security.

The government order authorizes the acquisition to proceed “in accordance with provisions designed to mitigate risks to national security.”

Information sharing from ENW to Redrock is restricted under government-imposed conditions.

The government also limited the influence of Chinese state-owned enterprises over the appointment of key ENW staff.

Rees-Mogg said the final orders issued under the UK’s new National Security Investments Act were “necessary and appropriate to mitigate risks to national security”.

An ENW spokesperson said: [Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy] Ensure full compliance with that requirement. “

A government spokesperson said, “The government must issue a final order notice if it imposes bailouts on certain acquisitions, and it did so today.”

“The Secretary of Commerce has the authority under the National Security Investments Act to intervene in transactions for national security reasons when necessary,” the spokesperson added.

security concerns

The move was the latest attempt by the British government to limit China’s involvement in British business, particularly in critical national infrastructure and technology sectors.

The decision was made under the National Security Investments Act of 2021, which took effect January 4. This law has probably caused the biggest change to the UK national security regime in 20 years.

The law gives the government new powers to scrutinize and intervene in certain acquisitions by anyone, including companies and investors, that could harm Britain’s national security.

In July, then-Secretary of Commerce Kwasi Kwarten used the law to block Beijing Infinity Vision Technologies Ltd from buying visual sensing technology from the University of Manchester.

In August, Kwarteng ruled that the Hong Kong-based company’s takeover of Bristol-based electronic design firm Pulsic should not go forward. Circuits that can be used in civilian or military supply chains. “

Under the law, the government is also investigating the acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab by Nexperia, the Netherlands-based subsidiary of Chinese smartphone maker Wingtech Technology.

Alexander Chan