The Trump administration really does not want a Chinese company to buy the Westinghouse nuclear business

A view of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant in Middletown, Pennsylvania.
(Image credit: Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

The Trump administration is reportedly plotting to head off Chinese investors' likely attempts to buy the bankrupt Westinghouse Electric Co. from parent company Toshiba Corp. in order to protect its nuclear secrets, Bloomberg reports.

Half of the more than 430 nuclear power stations around the world use Westinghouse technology; the company is responsible for building and maintaining reactors in the United States. Westinghouse has long been a target of Chinese espionage, most recently when the China General Nuclear Power Corp. was indicted in 2016 for conspiring to steal restricted technology.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have reportedly discussed plans to prevent the sale of Westinghouse to a company with ties to the Chinese government. "The government might block a sale to a Chinese buyer; encourage an alternative bid from U.S. or friendly foreign investors; or the government might invest in the company directly in return for an equity stake, akin to the Obama administration bailout of U.S. automakers," Bloomberg writes.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"Do we want that maintenance to be done by the Chinese? There are some bona fide national security issues to giving the Chinese that kind of access to our power grid backbone," explained former U.S. Navy Commander Kirk Lippold on Tuesday. Westinghouse is expected to arise in conversation between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping when the pair meet at Mar-a-Lago later this week.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.