How Innovative Is China in Nuclear Power?

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As Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), observed, “China is the de facto world leader in nuclear technology.”1 Indeed, China likely stands 10 to 15 years ahead of where the United States is in nuclear power (referring especially to the ability to field fourth-generation nuclear reactors). China’s government has assigned considerable priority to domestic nuclear reactor construction as part of Beijing’s broader energy strategy. Looking ahead, China appears likely to use this established domestic capacity as a foundation for competitive reactor exports, much as its “dual-circulation” strategy has accomplished in other areas, such as electric vehicles and batteries.

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