PACIFIC ISLANDS

Super-rich Chinese head to South Pacific on ‘island buying trip’

Wealthy group looking for ‘bargains’ in Fiji, Tuvalu and Tahiti, according to newspaper report

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2015, 3:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2015, 5:30pm

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A group of wealthy people from China are heading to the South Pacific this month to look for small islands to buy, according to a newspaper report.

A Guangdong-based entrepreneur Lin Dong said he and other five others were planning to fly to Fiji, Tuvalu and Tahiti this month on a buying trip, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

Lin said Fiji was their top destination as it had more than 300 islands and they were relatively cheap, according to the report.

“Islands there are not expensive, about 3 million yuan for one island,” Lin was quoted as saying.

“Fiji is located in the South Pacific where the environment is very beautiful and the location is good as direct flights will begin soon.”

Lin has previously tried to buy a lake island in Canada, but failed according to the report and so has set his sights on the South Pacific.

He has set up an association for island owners on the mainland, with about 60 members, and he believes more wealthy from China will want to buy their own islands in the future.

The trip to the South Pacific comes after Wendy Wei Mei Wu, a former property developer in Auckland, purchased a 217-hectare island off the North Island of New Zealand for US$5.3 million.

She referred to it as one her “toys”, New Zealand media reported in April.

Lin made his fortune after founding a medical equipment company.

He purchased an island in a lake in Heyuan in Guangdong province in 2006 and now has more than 40.

He was quoted as saying that members of his association preferred to buy islands in lakes and that two-thirds made their purchases for pleasure not business.

“Different people have their own way of pleasure,” he said.

“I prefer an island to be quiet with a beach so that I can fish while reading books and listening to music, while some prefer more wild ways, like building a simple villa, or to just live on a yacht.”

Lin was quoted as saying that the expectations and desires of the mainland’s wealthy were growing and that they were now keen to buy more extravagant items like private jets.

“[Owning a private island] is the top of the pyramid in the luxury market,” he said. “It’s like an aircraft carrier in some ways in that you need be equipped with private jets and yachts before really owning an island.”

China has over 6,500 islands covering more than 500 square metres, according to National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation, and all are owned by the government, although land use rights can be sold for 50 years.

Lin said it was easier to buy islands at sea abroad as he had faced ownership disputes with local governments in China over purchases he had made in previous years.