Chinese companies are no longer allowed to register for tenders for important parts of the electricity network of operator Tennet, if it is up to the Dutch government. According to Minister Rob Jetten (Climate and Energy, D66), the participation of Chinese parties would pose great risks to state security, he writes in answers to parliamentary questions on China’s involvement in state-owned Tennet. A change in the law should make it possible to exclude politically risky companies or countries, Jetten writes.

    Last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate intervened in a tender for two large offshore power supplies to be built near Scheveningen. At least one Chinese company was then banned by Tennet on the advice of the ministry, a ministry spokesperson confirmed NRC after reporting from The Financial Times

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    Investments as leverage

    Building the two major offshore platforms is one of the largest public tenders, worth around €30 billion, reports the FD† According to the ministry’s spokesperson, not all Chinese parties that want to respond to a tender are now banned by definition. “It may well be that the tendering of certain cables that do not have vital functions is left to Chinese companies. The risk is in the important information stations that are being built.”

    The AIVD reported in its 2020 annual report that China may create dependencies with substantial investments in European technology, Minister Jetten points out in the parliamentary questions. Investments can thus be used as leverage. A national safety analysis that the government had carried out for Tennet in 2020 resulted in recommendations to amend the Electricity Act. “These changes make it possible to take even better account of requirements for the protection of national security,” writes Jetten.

    Correction (June 23, 2022): An earlier version of this article stated that it was about Chinese tenders. This is not correct, it concerns Dutch tenders. That has been corrected above.