Nordic ventures far from finished
Mainland billionaire Huang Nubo is unfazed by the Icelandic government's rejection of his ambitious land-buying plan and he will continue to pursue similar projects in northern Europe, his spokeswoman said yesterday.
Huang, 55, chairman of Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group, was rejected by the Internal Affairs Ministry in Reykjavik on Friday over his attempt to buy 300 square kilometres of land on the north shore of Iceland, or 0.3 per cent of the country, citing various legal issues, including that Huang had not stayed or lived in Iceland for more than five years.
Yao Chen , spokeswoman for Zhongkun, said by phone that Huang and the company were now looking for similar projects in Scandinavian countries.
Yao said the Icelandic project was originally designed to have luxury resorts on converted wasteland with an estimated investment of US$200 million to attract rich tourists from China.
'Finland, Sweden and Denmark have all thrown us olive branches with offerings for similar projects,' she said. 'We are not upset by the rejection in Iceland. We will continue our worldwide expansion.'
However, Huang, when interviewed by mainland media, had a much stronger reaction.
'The denial reflects the unjust and parochial investment environment facing private Chinese enterprises abroad,' Huang told China Daily. 'The so-called political stability for foreign investments is not like what we think we know, or what they preach.'
State media and many mainland internet users took the rejection in Iceland as a deep offence to their growing pride in China's rising power and international influence. Government-controlled propaganda machines and internet forums were rife with angry opinions that put the incident on a par with the iron curtain that divided Europe from the end of the second world war until the end of the cold war.
Xinhua ran a commentary on its website yesterday, calling the incident an injustice and a collective effort by the West to demonise China.
'From 2007 to the date of Haung's application, the Icelandic government received 25 foreign applications for land purchases. They rejected only one,' the editorial said.
'Iceland will not benefit from this, because in North America and Europe, where investors' pockets have become shallow, they will not easily find such a generous investor, not to mention an influx of tourists from China, the biggest tourist source in Asia.
An internet comment posted on Sina.com called for China to reconsider its own opening-up policy. 'Isn't it time to start considering whether we should allow foreigners to make too much money in China?' said the post.
The amount of personal assets, in US dollars, Huang Nubo is estimated to have. Forbes ranks him as one of the richest mainlanders