Bill Gates’ nuclear energy company Terrapower collaborated with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) despite their connection to the Chinese Communist Party’s military.
In June, the U.S. Department of Defense released a list that included CNNC and 19 other companies that they claim are linked to the People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese Communist Party’s military. The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) also said CNNC “is involved in the development of China’s nuclear energy program, both civilian and military.”
During an interview with CCTV News at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015, Gates had confirmed his work with the CNNC when he said, “My energy investment is a fourth-generation nuclear product called Terrapower and they’re partnered with the Chinese company CNNC to actually build this next-generation reactor.”
“China has a huge role to play here because it’s adding more energy capacity than any country … it’s been very aggressive at looking at all new forms of energy,” Gates continued. “It’s one of the countries that committed to raise its research, which is fantastic because there are a lot of good researchers in China … and China in the nuclear field, in the transmission field … in many areas, is contributing a lot to the new products that should give us the solution.”
The main idea fueled by the Terrapower-CNNC collaboration was a nuclear energy pilot project that used an approach called a “traveling wave reactor.” According to Gates, it’s safe, prevents proliferation, and produces very little waste.
The project, however, was forced to be tabled after Trump administration policies appeared to end the collaboration between Gates and the Chinese Communist Party-controlled company.
“There are several promising ideas in advanced nuclear that should be explored…” Gates’ said. “We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the U.S. have made that unlikely.”
The State Department has highlighted the fundamental problems with engagements with the Chinese nuclear industry, including China using “its large, rapidly-growing, state-sponsored nuclear industry as a strategic tool with which to augment China’s “comprehensive national power” – both through development in the civilian sector and in support of a military buildup.”
They went on to state how the Chinese nuclear industry’s focus on “growth and expansion at virtually any cost” has led to growing concerns over safety and reliability. The State Department also said that the success of the Chinese nuclear industry “has been based, in considerable part, upon the systematic acquisition of foreign nuclear technology, both licit trade and through systematic theft.”
This isn’t the first time Gates’ has displayed his admiration for China. The Microsoft billionaire raised eyebrows when he said the Chinese Communist Party “did a lot of things right” with regards to its COVID-19 response, Yahoo News reported. In 2010, the Chinese Embassy to the U.S. even went so far as to say, “Bill Gates bats for China.”
In 2017, for his work on Terrapower, the Chinese State Council awarded Gates with a lifetime membership in the country’s Academy of Engineering, the South China Morning Post reported. Gates has also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on “various occasions and discussed further nuclear energy cooperation with Premier Li Keqiang.”