BEIJING -- China brought online Friday what it claims to be its first nuclear reactor built with homegrown technology, a state-owned plant operator said, marking a significant step toward turning the country into a major industry player.
The Hualong One, developed by China National Nuclear Corp. and China General Nuclear Power based on U.S. and French designs, is now undergoing a trial run. The third-generation pressurized water nuclear unit will soon start commercial operations as the fifth reactor at Fujian Province's Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant.
With two layers of containment, the Hualong One is one of the safest nuclear reactors worldwide, according to CNNC. The company said the project has turned China into an advanced player in nuclear power, ending the monopoly other countries have had on the technology.
Chinese President Xi Jinping considers nuclear power a top priority under "Made in China 2025," an initiative to bolster high-tech industries. The latest unit is positioned as a challenger to the Westinghouse-developed AP1000 and Europe's EPR.
China's nuclear power industry is said to now have a self-sufficiency rate of over 85%, with roughly 5,000 companies including 58 state-owned enterprises in the supply chain.
Roughly 50 nuclear reactors with a combined generation capacity of 50,000 megawatts are currently operating in China, local media report. Another seven or so units of the Hualong One are being built, and another four have been approved for construction.
Nuclear power is a crucial piece to China's Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative. A Hualong One reactor -- -- is nearing completion in Pakistan, and the design is also pending export approval from British and Argentinian authorities.