Pakistan and China officially agreed to build unit 5 of the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Pakistan’s Punjab province with a 1,200 MWe Hualong One (HPR1000) reactor. The president of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Wang Yongge, and Muhammad Saeedur Rehman from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) both signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU). Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese Charge d’Affaires Pang Chunxue attended the signing event.
Following the event, work on the project will get underway, according to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. He emphasised China’s large $4.8 billion investment, stressing that it showed China’s faith and confidence in Pakistan. As it is a welcoming country for Chinese businesses and investors. Sharif praised China’s assistance in offering a cost cut, which is especially helpful given Pakistan’s dire balance of payments situation.
Uncertainty surrounds how much of the $65 billion China has allotted for infrastructure improvement in Pakistan as part of the Belt and Road Initiative would be covered by this new investment. Sharif expressed gratitude to China for not shifting costs. Despite the project’s delayed launch, originally scheduled to begin several years ago. Instead, China started the project with a PKR30 billion ($104.53 million) initial contribution.
Sharif pointed out that the project had first been given the go-ahead during the administration of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. But has since been suspended by the successor administration. CNNC and PAEC had already inked a cooperation agreement for Chashma 5 in November 2017. With a start date of around 2021.
Four Chinese CNP-300 water reactors were delivered to the Chashma NPP and connected to the grid between 2000 and 2017.