China National Nuclear Corporation


The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is designated very high risk as a leading defence conglomerate.

CNCC is the leading state-owned enterprise for China’s civilian and military nuclear programs. It consists of more than 200 subordinate enterprises and research institutes, many of which are listed on the Nuclear Threat Initiative website. In 2018, CNNC took over China’s main nuclear construction company, China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Group (中国核工业建设集团).

The company is organized into eight industrial sectors, including nuclear power, nuclear power generation, nuclear fuel, natural uranium, nuclear environmental protection, application of nuclear technologies, non-nuclear civilian products and new energy sources. CNNC is mainly engaged in research and development, design, construction and production operations in the fields of nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear technology application, and nuclear environmental protection engineering.

Because of the dual-use nature of nuclear technologies, the nuclear industry is a typical military-civil fusion industry. Naval nuclear power technology and nuclear reactor technology in the reactor core, fuel assembly, safety and security, and radioactive waste treatment all use the same or very similar processes. In March 2019, CNNC established an military-civil fusion fund dedicated to dual-use nuclear technology research and design.

Two CNNC subsidiaries have been added to the US Government’s Entity List, restricting exports to them on national security grounds.

CNNC has cooperated with U.S. Westinghouse Electric to construct AP1000 nuclear power plants. The company also has a significant overseas presence, signing agreements for joint research with U.S., French, Canadian, U.K., Russian and Argentinian companies.

Economic espionage and misconduct

The Chinese military’s Unit 61398 was acccused by the US Government of hacking into Westinghouse Electric and other US companies. Although the indictment does not specify the Chinese SOEs that would have benefitted from the hacking, the descriptions of the cases gave strong signals as to their identities. The indictment says that Westinghouse signed a contract to construct four reactors in China for ‘SOE-1’ around 2007, which coincides with the American nuclear power plant developer’s contract to build reactors for CNNC. According to a speech by Dr. Christopher Ashley Ford, Assistant Secretary Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, in 2014, ‘PLA hackers were indicted for breaking into systems of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, from which they stole confidential business strategies regarding negotiations with a Chinese SOE on future plant construction. They also stole confidential proprietary information in the form of technical and design specifications for Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design, to enable China to build a similar power plant without major R&D costs.’

Noteworthy international collaborations

U.S. Westinghouse Electric and CNNC Sanmen Nuclear Power Company Limited cooperated on the development of the AP1000 plant, a Generation III + two-loop pressurized water reactor, which is considered the most advanced commercially available plant. The design of the nuclear reactor was provided by Westinghouse Electric.

CNNC signed an equipment and service agreement with Russia’s Rosatom worth more than $500 million. The two firms also confirmed plans to build another two third-generation Russia-designed VVER reactor units at China’s Tianwan nuclear project on the eastern coast.

In 2018, French nuclear energy company Framatome signed a protocol for the development of a global strategic cooperation with CNNC. Framatome and CNNC plan to extend their cooperation in nuclear fuel design, engineering and services, as well as on digital instrumentation and control for nuclear power plants. Finally, they plan to increase their cooperation in maintenance, safety and operation upgrades for in-service nuclear power plants. The cooperation protocol actions will be carried out by a joint working group between Framatome and CNNC.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced in 2018 that it signed a cooperation agreement with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) for nuclear energy science and technology to support the transition to a greener, low-carbon economy.

The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) signed a research contract with China Nuclear Power Engineering Company Limited (CNPE) – a subsidiary company of CNNC. The collaboration will cover reactor design, including consideration of environmental impact, materials selection and the corrosion properties of relevant materials during use in reactor systems.

CNNC signed a contract with Argentina on heavy water reactor and pressurized water reactor nuclear station projects.

End-user lists

Two subsidiaries of CNNC are included on the US Government’s Entity List:

Last updated 11 June 2020. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.