A Chinese proposal could be politically radioactive for the UK government. Photo: Reuters

A Chinese state-run corporation is eyeing a multibillion-pound stake in the United Kingdom’s nuclear power plants, according to The Guardian newspaper.

China General Nuclear Power Group’s interest will likely reignite the debate about the Asian powerhouse’s involvement in the British nuclear power industry. Two years ago, the British government paused approval for the £18bn Hinkley Point C project, citing security concerns about China’s stake.

CGN is believed to be interested in purchasing a major stake in eight power stations, including Sizewell in Suffolk and Dungeness in Kent, which are run by EDF Energy, a subsidiary of France’s EDF. Centrica, the owner of British Gas, put its 20% stake up for sale earlier this year. It is believed that CGN hoped to buy a 49% stake, which indicates EDF could be looking to offload some of its shareholding.

The proposed deal is controversial because it would give China greater access to critical infrastructure projects and the UK government has initiated a new national security test for foreign takeovers.