French state-controlled utility EDF Energy, Paris, signed a “strategic investment agreement” on Oct. 21 transferring 33.5% of its 100% ownership of the U.K.’s planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant to Beijing-based China General Nuclear Corp. China is now expected also to have a stake in subsequent U.K. nuclear plants.

Hinkley Point C “will continue to meet our robust safety regulations,” says Energy Secretary Amber Rudd. The 3,300-MW pressurized water plant and its successors “will guarantee the U.K. the reliable, secure low carbon electricity it needs in the future,” claims EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz.

The Franco-Chinese deal, announced during Chinese president Xi Jinping’sstate visit to the U.K., follows agreement in principle between the utilities and government over long-term electricity prices and eventual decommissioning of the plant. No date has been set for final contracts to be signed leading to the start of construction at the site in Somerset.

EDF this July announced a raft of preferred bidders for Hinkley Point’s various second tier construction contracts. The French utility then estimated that 60% of the plant’s construction, by value, would be done by U.K.-based firms.

However, the estimated $3-billion (£2bn) main contract for the civil construction was allocated two years ago to Paris-based Bouygues Travaux Publics S.A.leading a joint venture with the U.K.’s Laing O’Rourke plc., Dartford. Contracts for nuclear equipment and turbines also went to French firms, Areva S.A. and Alstom S.A. respectively.