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Russia scored a major victory in the intense competition for China's energy market Monday with a multibillion-dollar deal to build a nuclear power reactor in eastern China.

Russia said the deal was worth $3 billion, while China gave a figure of $2 billion for equipment plus unspecified construction costs.

Two 1,000-megawatt generating units of the Russian-built plant in Lianyungang, a coastal city northwest of Shanghai, are to begin operating in 2004 and 2005, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Russian officials said the reactors will be "light water" units considered much safer than Chernobyl-style graphite units.

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