The ballroom of the Grand Hyatt on Beijing’s East Chang An Avenue was packed. The occasion: the first-ever China International Nuclear Symposium, a gathering of China’s top nuclear players and the world’s nuclear power companies, including Westinghouse, Areva SA, and Hitachi-GE. What brought the Chinese to the Hyatt on Nov. 24 and 25 was a hunger for the latest technology, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Dec. 6 issue. What brought the foreigners was money: According to Michael Kruse, consultant on nuclear systems for Arthur D. Little, the Chinese are ready to spend $511 billion to build up to 245 reactors. “The market is being driven by the construction of new reactors, and it is no secret that most of those are right here in China,” says Fletcher T. Newton, an executive vice-president of Uranium One, a mining company. The global nuclear industry is willing to take big risks to get a piece of China’s nuclear budget. The danger is that in landing those fat contracts — and sharing technology with Chinese partners — the industry will help build a formidable rival. Even though they lack the most advanced technology, the Chinese are rapidly becoming self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, according to the World Nuclear Association.