The owners of an innovative Scottish wave power company (Pelamis Wave Power) were surprised when personal computers were stolen from their headquarters not long after an official visit by the man who is now the Premier of the State Council of China. The Pelamis wave power generator was developed by the Scottish company which was visited by Li Keqiang during a UK visit in January 2011. Nothing other than the four computers was stolen during the burglary and though irritating Pelamis thought no further of it.
Pelamis had hoped to secure Chinese investment to aid the development of their machine but this did not materialise. They have since entered administration and their wave power machine has not been developed further. Some five years later however the creation of a very similar machine by a Chinese company has raised some eyebrows. The Chinese version of the machine (the Hailong (Dragon) 1) remains under development.
It is of course perfectly possible that it is a coincidence that the Chinese company had been working on a similar design. It is also possible that they took inspiration from pictures of the Pelamis machine that are freely available on the internet. Some people however have made a link between the visit of the Chinese delegation to Pelamis in January 2011 and the burglary 2 months later in March 2011. The fact that the burglars ignored Siemens offices in the same building and made off with only 4 laptops reinforces some people's suspicions.
These suspicions are further reinforced by the similarities between the machines including the use of a hinged joint system for placing the machine in and out of the sea.
Pelamis hold a patent for their machine however this does not extend to provide protection in China and so even if these suspicions could be proven no action could be taken. This does however raise concerns about industrial espionage of the UK's critical infrastructure, particularly at a time when many such infrastructure projects are funded by foreign investment.Posted by: in: EU/International, News