Peter Schweizer’s new bestseller Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win devotes considerable attention to the troubling relationship between Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the Chinese Communist regime. One of the most disturbing episodes in that relationship occurred when Gates stepped outside the realm of personal computers to help the Chinese improve their nuclear reactors.
In 2011 — after a decade of alternately predicting China would never be able to police the Internet and helping Communist officials do exactly that — a company called TerraPower that was cofounded by Gates began working with the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) on a “next-generation” reactor.
The project was ostensibly civilian in nature, although Schweizer notes CNNC also works for the Chinese military — and the molten salt reactors TerraPower developed just happen to be “incredibly effective at propelling ships at sea, including military vessels.”
Red-Handed notes the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was already working on techniques for installing this type of reactor on its aircraft carriers when Gates’ TerraPower teamed up with CNNC.
The partnership ended in 2018 when “policy changes” under the Trump administration “made the project difficult to achieve.” CNNC was later included on a list of Chinese companies linked to the PLA, which would seem to have scuttled its partnership with Gates — although he evidently hopes to continue working on reactor projects with other Chinese companies.