BEIJING—The former head of China's nuclear power program was sentenced Friday to life in prison on charges of corruption, in an apparent effort to sweep away graft in a key area of the economy that is undergoing massive expansion.
Kang Rixin was convicted by Beijing's First Intermediary Court of taking bribes and abusing his position to enrich others, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Kang was fired last year from his job as general manager of China National Nuclear Corp., the biggest owner of nuclear power plants in China. No details of the charges against him have been released and calls to the court rang unanswered.
China is deploying domestic and foreign technology to rapidly expand its nuclear sector to meet rising energy demand and replace heavily polluting coal-burning plants that currently provide about 80 percent of China's power. Thirteen reactors are now in operation with 62 under construction or in the planning stages, according to the World Nuclear Association, a London-based industry group.
Another 150 reactors are under consideration, with the short-term goal of raising the proportion of power generated by nuclear plants to 4 percent from the current 2 percent.
The China National Nuclear Corp. plans to invest 800 billion yuan ($120 billion) in nuclear energy projects by 2020, according to the official China Daily newspaper.