BEIJING -- The Chinese government Wednesday ordered safety inspections of all nuclear facilities in the wake of Japan's atomic crisis, and said it was freezing approval of all new plants.

"We will temporarily suspend approval of nuclear power projects, including those in the preliminary stages of development," said a statement on the central government website, following a meeting of the State Council, China's cabinet.

Environmental authorities had not detected any abnormal levels of radiation in China since last Friday's earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear crisis at the plant in Fukushima on Japan's Pacific coast.

China is one of the fastest-growing consumers of nuclear power as it seeks to meet energy demands of its booming economy. It has 13 nuclear power reactors in operation and 25 under construction, with more due to start construction soon, according to the World Nuclear Association.

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