French official in plea to China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 February, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 February, 1993, 12:00am

A TOP French official is in Beijing this week to study threats by China to ban his compatriots from doing business there.

The executive vice-president of the French national utility, Electricite de France, Mr Jean-Michel Fauve, has been meeting high level officials to address their concern over the sale of Mirage jet fighters to Taiwan.

However, the focus of the talks has centred on continuing business negotiations.

The visit was revealed yesterday after a statement from the general manager of the Guangdong Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company, Mr Zan Yun-long, that French companies may be excluded from a proposed second nuclear power plant in Guangdong province.

Mr Zan said Beijing wanted to make the French aware of the consequences of selling the planes.

The jet fighter sale, announced in December, has brought a strong response from Beijing, which ordered the closure of the French consulate and trade commission in Guangzhou. French companies were also banned from taking part in the US$1 billion (HK$7.73 billion) Guangzhou subway project.

Despite the threat, sources close to the nuclear industry said China would closely watch the French national elections in March before making a definite move against the companies.

The row between France and China has had no effect on the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant, 50 kilometres from Hongkong, where several French companies are involved. All current contracts would remain intact, joint venture engineer Mr Qian Zhi-min said.

Commissioning of the Daya Bay plant is expected in late autumn. In the meantime, Mr Qian said any comments on the future of the proposed nuclear plant were premature.

''A feasibility study has been done and it shows Guangdong needs a second nuclear plant because we are a developing economy, but the central Government and the Guangdong Government have not reached an agreement on the plant. They are just talking,'' Mr Qian said.

His comments came during the opening yesterday of a month-long exhibition of the nuclear power plant. The show was to reassure local residents of the safety of the plant, Mr Qian said.

More than 50,000 people, including 30,000 students, are expected to tour the show at the Shenzhen People's Science Hall.