Chinese tycoon buys Iceland

Real estate tycoon Huang Nubo, China’s 161st richest person, is said to have struck a deal with private landowners in Iceland for a 300 square kilometre tract of land in the Grímsstadir á Fjöllum region to develop a $100 million ecotourism golf resort project. The tract of land represents the equivalent of ten times the size of Macau, or more than a quarter of Hong Kong’s land mass. If successful in his bid, Huang would own 0.3% of the total land area of Iceland.

Face it, Iceland. You need the cash, and this guy has it; Huang Nubo is reported to have offered a billion krona (£5.4m: $8.8m) for the 300sq km (155 sq mile) Grimsstadir a Fjollum region. Critics of the plan fear it could be used by China to gain a strategic foothold in Iceland. But Icelandic officials have welcomed the purchase and the further 20bn krona Mr Huang says he intends to invest. Mr Huang is the chairman of the Zhongkun investment group, and is also reported to have worked as a minister in the Chinese Central Propaganda Department and Ministry of Construction. He’s also a poet as well as a polar explorer (he has summited the seven peaks on the seven continents and also walked to the South Pole!) .Iceland’s Foreign Ministry said Mr Huang’s plans involved linking up the Vatnajokull and and Jokulsargljufur national parks, in line with his company’s “emphasis on nature conservation and environmental tourism”. Mr Huang had promised to co-operate fully with the Icelandic authorities, said the ministry, and to renounce any claims to water from the Jokulsa a Fjollum river which crosses the property. While the purchase has been approved by the local landlords, officials said Mr Huang had yet to apply for an exemption from laws barring non-EU nationals from buying land.

Icelandic lawmakers, conscious of China’s ambitious land acquisition around the world, are concerned that the project could act as a cover for its geopolitical interests; some in Iceland have raised concerns about the long term implications of Icelandic territory entering foreign hands, and that the land could give China future access to deep sea ports in the area. “We face the fact that a foreign tycoon wants to buy 300sq km of Icelandic land. This has to be discussed and not swallowed without chewing,” Interior Minister Ogmundur Jonasson wrote on his website. “Isn’t it necessary to pause and think when we offer Iceland up for sale again?” Iceland’s Minister for Industry, Katrin Juliusdottir, told reporters there is “no reason to get hysterical just because one Chinese man wants to buy some land and invest in tourism in Iceland. Foreigners already own quite a bit of land here and I don’t think there is anything to fear from that.”

Thank you; ,
Thank you Shanghaiist; 
and thx 2; .

What do you think? Should Iceland allow a wealthy Chinese (real-estate tycoon and chairman of an impressive investment group) invest in their tourism to enrichen the economy or should Iceland be more careful and not allow foreigners to invest in their country? The ZhongKun Investment Group does state they want to do more for their community (click). Do they mean their Chinese community with “our”, or do they mean community in general? 

I think Iceland seems like a beautiful country with lovely nature and I would like to experience an eco-friendly vacation over there!  

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