U.S., Japan in talks to prevent China acquiring Westinghouse: U.S. official

Thu Apr 6, 2017 9:46pm EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration and the Japanese government are in discussions to ensure that the bankruptcy of Toshiba Corp's (6502.T: Quote) U.S. unit Westinghouse Electric Co does not lead to U.S. technology secrets and infrastructure falling into Chinese hands, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy last month hit by billions of dollars of cost overruns at four nuclear reactors under construction in the U.S. Southeast.

The bankruptcy is likely to lead to the eventual sale of Westinghouse's nuclear business and Chinese interests have been seen as possible buyers, given the chance.

"It's a real concern; they've wanted to get their hands on power grid and nuclear infrastructure for a long time," an official in the U.S. administration told Reuters as China's President Xi Jinping arrived in the United States on Thursday for a first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

"You go into a situation like the Toshiba situation where there's financial chaos. There's a chance that things can happen in a way that's dangerous."

Some nuclear technologies have dual use, meaning they can be used for civilian and military purposes.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said conversations were going on between the U.S. and Japanese governments "on ways to mitigate a potential sale."

"There are ways that are being looked at, both formally and informally, to make sure there is no threat to critical infrastructure," the official said.

Japan's trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, denied that the Japanese and U.S. governments were in talks about the situation surrounding Westinghouse, telling a regular news conference in Tokyo they were "not discussing it at all."   Continued...

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken February 2017.  Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS