The British government says it will underwrite 2 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) in Chinese financing for a new nuclear power plant in southwest England, as it encourages major Chinese investment in Britain's nuclear sector.

Treasury chief George Osborne, who is on a trip to China, says Britain will underwrite China's stake in the Hinckley Point power station. He says the deal "opens the door to majority Chinese ownership of a subsequent nuclear project" planned for England's southeast.

British officials hope Monday's announcement will encourage France's EDF Energy, the lead investor, to make a final decision this year to build the plant, which would be Britain's first new nuclear station in two decades.

The project, which had been due to start producing electricity in 2023, has been mired in delays.